They should have seen it coming.
A controversial sweatshirt reading, "Being fat is not beautiful, it's an excuse," is no longer for sale, following days of backlash and public outcry. The product, sold by Los Angeles-based retailer Revolve and part of a collaboration collection by brand LPA and others such as Lena Dunham, was pulled from Revolve's site on Thursday.
Revolve issued a statement on Instagram Thursday evening. "We messed up big. We are SO SORRY for hurting and offending you," the statement read, noting that the apparel collaboration was meant to "shine a light on the darkness of the internet by printing real-life, damaging comments that could have been left on the social media feeds of women everywhere."
Much of the controversy surrounded the model. While Dunham and plus-size model Paloma Elsesser claimed in reports that the shirt was meant to empower women and support body diversity, it was modeled by a slim woman on Revolve's site, and therefore appeared to many consumers to be body shaming.
Dunham published her own statement on Instagram, laying responsibility at Revolve's feet.
"Without consulting me or any of the women involved, @revolve presented the sweatshirts on thin white women, never thinking about the fact that difference and individuality is what gets you punished on the Internet, or that lack of diversity in representation is a huge part of the problem (in fact, the problem itself.) As a result, I cannot support this collaboration or lend my name to it in any way," she wrote.
In its statement, Revolve said the choice of model was "inappropriate." Along with pulling the sweatshirt and canceling the collection, Revolve said it's donating $20,000 to Girls Write Now, a nonprofit.
Twitter users weren't particularly impressed with Revolve's apology.
i don't give a shit what they were "trying" to do. whoever made this shit KNEW people would see it as an insult, not some bullshit quote as part of a "cyber bullying campaign" or whatever the fuck it is. Revolve, get your head out of your ass pic.twitter.com/WOc7FAWiGi— kaz ☆ (@grandeschambiie) September 14, 2018
I assisted Lena on the creation of this and I told that I thought it was a bad idea. She said that for women to be equal to men, we need to strengthen females to acknowledge their bodies.— ferndogg (@ferndogg) September 14, 2018
Neither Revolve nor LPA responded to a request for additional comment beyond the statement posted to Instagram.
Of course, Revolve is not the first brand to invite controversy in recent months, as social media heightens awareness of social issues and brands are held accountable for insensitivities. H&M came under fire early this year for featuring an ad of a black child wearing a hoodie reading "Coolest monkey in the jungle." The retailer pulled the product, but not before riots broke out.