The line between a joke and cruelty is very fine. What seems like a knee slapper to me, might be fat shaming to you.
Even if it’s something as innocuous as novelty plates.
Alie Ward, a correspondent for CBS’s Innovation Nation and who has written for LA Weekly and The LA Times, shared an image of some plates being sold at Macy’s.
The plates, from the brand Pourtions, had rings with different labels meant to provide “helpful —and hilarious—visual cues” for serving sizes, according to the website.
Ward shared a photo of one of the plates that seemed to go too far.
In her photo, Ward shares a plate that lists different sizes ranging from “Mom Jeans” down to “Skinny Jeans” with consecutively smaller circles.
In her tweet, Ward asks,
“How can I get these plates from @Macys banned in all 50 states”
The tweet quickly went viral, gaining over 40 thousand ‘likes’ and five thousand comments about the fat shaming plate.
Among those who had an opinion was Jameela Jamil, star of The Good Place, who has tried to spread a message of body positivity.
With the tweet going viral, many had their own opinions on the subject matter. While not everyone supported a ban on the dinnerware, people did see the harm in pushing those kinds of messages.
Eating disorders affect millions in this country. While young women are more likely to suffer from them, men are at risk too.
They are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Which is why plates like this can be so dangerous. The obsession we have with slim or emaciated looks can be psychologically damaging to someone vulnerable.
Many commenters agreed the plates pushed the wrong kind of message.
I hate whoever designed these plates, whoever approved them, whoever manufactured them and whoever buys them. This is so dangerous and hurts so many people. It's NOT funny. https://t.co/e39E5R2c0e— Savannah Oseguera (@ooatmeall) July 22, 2019
Gross.— Jess Phoenix 🌋🏳️🌈🤠 (@jessphoenix2018) July 21, 2019
*sings v off key* diet culture promotes disordered eating thanks fatphobiaaaaaaaa https://t.co/216Sbc7mgd— mermaid queen 🧜🏻♀️ (@MerQueenJude) July 22, 2019
Hi I love you— Alie Ward (@alieward) July 21, 2019
But not everyone saw these as anything other than harmless jokes. For every comment you can find condemning these plates, you’ll find one defending them.
Often they make the argument that a ban on these plates would impugn the free speech of the plate maker and Macy’s for selling them. For her part, Ward has said that a complete ban was hyperbole, but the message that these plates can cause harm was still there.
This led to arguments in the comments on the tweet.
because it can be seriously triggering for say, people who are suffering or in recovery from an eating disorder. that's one of many reasons this shouldn't be up in the shelves— niene (@nieneplume) July 22, 2019
even I know it's not that it's not funny.— Michael Brown (@Supermathie) July 23, 2019
It's death by a thousand cuts.
Just because something doesn't hurt you doesn't mean it isn't harmful. Read up on eating disorders maybe, just a thought.— Jasmine (@Jasminem2620) July 23, 2019
Imagine thinking eating disorders are funny— Rykeld (@Ryk3ld) July 22, 2019
There is an issue with people in this country fat-shaming others. Jameela Jamil speaks out because she’s dealt with anorexia as a teenager.
It’s common knowledge that people who work in Hollywood or in modeling are often told to lose unhealthy amounts of weight. Last year, a magazine editor caught heat for calling plus-sized models “fat and out of shape”.
Luckily, Macy’s was much more receptive.
They told Ward that that they were removing the product.
I appreciate that; thanks for hearing and taking the feedback. Sidenote: if the surplus stock winds up in TJ Maxxs and Marshalls and Ross stores across America I’m gunna lose it again.— Alie Ward (@alieward) July 22, 2019
“Banned” was hyperbole — I just think this logic is flawed, harmful & people shouldn’t make money off of making women feel bad— but Macy’s agrees and is pulling them. General sidenote: speak up for others, contact your reps & vote in local, state & national elections k thanx https://t.co/TfFvqcIVI1— Alie Ward (@alieward) July 22, 2019
It may seem like pointless complaining, but when you speak up about something that matters, it’s possible to make a change.
Keeping silent only maintains the status quo.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, please call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237 for help.