Anna Sheffer
July 23, 2019 11:05 am

The body positivity movement has undeniably come a long way in recent years. Plus-size models like Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham are gaining visibility, showing that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Some stores have even introduced plus-size mannequins, further normalizing the idea that there’s more than one right way to have a body. It’s tempting to look at all of this and pat ourselves on the backs for size-inclusivity, but the reality is that fat-shaming is still everywhere. Recently, for instance, Macy’s came under fire for a collection of plates that shamed diners for the amount they eat.

On July 21st, writer and podcast host Alie Ward spotted the offensive plates at her local Macy’s and tweeted a picture of two of them. People.com notes that the plates came from the brand Pourtions. Macy’s was selling them as part of its STORY initiative to highlight small businesses. Pourtions specializes in dinnerware and glasses that have pre-measured portion sizes marked on them. The idea behind these products seems to be guilting people into eating less; portion sizes have names like “al dente” (smaller) and “al don’te” (larger) or “feed me” (smaller) and “feed bag” (larger).

The first plate that Ward photographed bore three portion sizes: “skinny jeans,” “favorite jeans,” and “mom jeans.” On the second plate (a pasta bowl), the designated portion sizes were “foodie,” and “food coma.”

On its company website, Pourtions’ founders said that they came up with the design idea after reading about obesity and believing that portion sizes were the main culprit.

“This initial inspiration led us to design a conceptual line of tableware that deftly mixes social awareness with a humorous nudge in the right direction (it’s, um, much funnier than it sounds 😉 It truly suits the way we approach solutions—practical, irreverent & engaging,” the website writes.

But many people didn’t see anything “humorous” about it. It didn’t take long for Ward’s post showing the plates to go viral. As of July 23rd, it has been retweeted more than 5,400 times and has more than 46,200 likes. Many agreed that the plates promoted unhealthy habits—and some argued that they could even exacerbate eating disorders.

Macy’s, it seems, was paying attention to the backlash. The department store replied to Ward’s tweet promising to remove the plates from its stores. The company also agreed that it had “missed the mark” in selling the plates.

Ward thanked the store for taking her complaint seriously and requested that the plates also be kept out of Ross and TJ Maxx.

While we’re glad that Ward’s tweet led to concrete results, it’s still frustrating to think that these products were being sold in the first place. The plates themselves aren’t an isolated problem. They’re part of the culture that teaches women that being thin is virtuous and being fat is a moral failing. We’re constantly surrounded by the pressure to lose weight, and it has real, negative consequences like eating disorders and body image issues. We hope that Macy’s and other retailers will seriously reconsider selling other fat-shaming products.

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