I was intrigued to see protesters at the local mall here in Durham, NC outside of an Urban Outfitters. What were they protesting? This shirt, and the lifestyle it promotes:
The protest at Southpoint mall was led by Amy Lambert:
It wasn’t unusual for Lambert, who had an eating disorder for more than eight years, to consume little more than one 80-calorie container of yogurt in a day. Now recovering, Lambert led a protest last week outside of Urban Outfitters at Southpoint mall in Durham. (via The Independent)
Protestors at Southpoint Mall
PHOTO BY REBEKAH L. COWELL/Indy WEEK
While some say this shirt is encouraging youth who are obese to become healthier and eat less, I see something much more misguided and sad going on. This T-shirt, which has been removed from the Urban Outfitters website, is promoting a message that young women are only attractive if they are super thin, and that they should eat less to fit this unrealistic model of body size.
This makes me really angry. At least 24% of Americans have an eating disorder, which has the highest mortality rate of any mental disease. Stores like Urban Outfitters should be doing everything they can to promote healthy body image, but instead they are doing the opposite:
Telling an individual with an eating disorder to "eat less" aggravates emotional, psychological and physical issues. And for those still stuck in dangerous patterns, it is a message of validation, says Chase Bannister, clinical director for Carolina House.
The banner-statement ‘Eat Less’ can be a stinging trigger for women and men with anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder," Bannister added, "ultimately providing reinforcement for the distorted belief our patients work so hard to stamp out: ‘I will never be okay unless I’m thin.’
Urban Outfitters is promoting a lifestyle that is killing young men and women, when as a clothing store I argue that they have a duty to do everything they can to promote realistic, healthy body images. When countless people are suffering, oftentimes alone, Urban Outfitters should promote the message that it is Ok to eat, and that one can be sexy and fun and beautiful while also being healthy and safe.
Be sure to check out Amplify’s issues page on body image.