Revolve struck a raw nerve when they launched a well intended, but perhaps misleading, line of LPA sweatshirts. Each sweatshirt in the series features a quote reportedly said to Lena Dunham (“Horrible Result of Modern Feminism”), Cara Delevingne (“Too boney to be boned”), Paloma Elsesser (“Being fat is not beautiful it’s an excuse”), and others. The goal was to reclaim the insults from online trolls. Proceeds were even donated to charity.
— Tess Holliday 🥀 (@Tess_Holliday) September 12, 2018
But those efforts were overshadowed by the backlash.
“LOLLL @REVOLVE y’all are a mess,” model Tess Holliday tweeted on Wednesday, criticizing the LPA sweatshirts which have apparently sold out, according to the Internet. The quotes clearly outsize the person attributed, which only further lends to their “wait, what?” shock factor, something that was probably done on purpose to get attention and raise sales.
“The sweatshirts went up early on Revolve for some reason,” LPA wrote to London-based artist Florence Given in an Instagram Direct Message. “But it’s a collaboration with 5 women with the worst troll quotes. The point was to shine the light on how horrible trolling is. The proceeds benefit charity. So basically it’s the opposite of what it seems.”
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UPDATE: heard back from @palomija and she told me she is MORTIFIED about how this quote has been used, and is asking for her quote to be pulled • The brand @lpa responded and they have got @revolve to take down the shots – this is our convo. Problematic marketing = a problem with diversity in the work place. This is still incredibly problematic and an awful attempt at ‘claiming back’ toxic narratives because (in my opinion) it just gives them power by putting them back into the world and at a £162 price tag. The designs went up to XL, so the women who this tee is supposed to ‘empower’ probably wouldn’t even fit into one. But at least we got the pics taken down…Ugh.
Despite the brand’s best intentions, many people agree that the messaging behind these sweatshirts is misguided. As Fashionista editor Tyler McCall notes, the sweatshirts only go up to a XL, which is hardly considered “plus size,” and conflicts with the message. All of this is made worse by the fact that they are being presented on a model who is considered “sample size.”
The generally negative response to LPA’s launch highlights the sensitivity of the body positive movement, its splintered interpretations, and its importance. This is, after all, a movement that is supposedly championed by the fashion industry, an industry that once worshiped at the feat of “skinny legends” like Kate Moss, who’s own questionable quotes (“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”) have served as scripture for some.
As much as change is necessary, there’s likely to be some cognitive dissonance among the fashion set. That doesn’t excuse LPA’s or Revolve’s actions, but it does help to explain their cause. Fashion has long pandered to thin privilege. Body positivity challenges that status quo. It asks everyone to come face-to-face with their physical selves and upend a culturally homogenized view of what’s considered beautiful, which is obviously interpreted in myriad ways as demonstrated by LPA.
People are demanding change, but body positivity is an imperfect and on-going conversation. An industry built upon measuring people’s values based on aesthetics doesn’t simply, poof, change overnight. Dismantling a vertical view of beauty takes time!