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Online Store Faces Serious Backlash Over Fat-Shaming Sweater

Revolve

"Being fat is not beautiful it's an excuse."

Imagine browsing through a rack of shirts at a store and then you stumble upon a sweater that has those harsh words printed on it.

This is what happened when people visited Revolve's website last week.

However, instead of a hanger, the $168 Paloma Sweatshirt was spotted on a slim model, and people were furious.

Plus-size model and body positivity advocate Tess Holliday was one of the first people that took to Twitter to slam the brand, calling them "a mess."

Other users quickly flooded Holliday's post with comments expressing their anger and disappointment over such a big company for being "judgmental" and promoting fat-shaming.

"They didn’t think this one through," wrote one user. "Nice to constantly have companies body shaming! It’s bad enough as it is with people having eating disorders because of pressure online and in the media."

"WTF @Revolve this is awful! This damaging to all women," Sarah Prewitt tweeted.

Another tweet read: "Lemme guess! This shirt was designed to 'encourage' people to lose weight but not make fun of them. BS! Can’t wait for the excuses!"

"This is gross..who even thought that would be a good idea," chimed one user while another called the sweater "disgusting."

Revolve eventually responded to the backlash and claimed that the sweatshirt design was part of a "prematurely released" collaboration between the designer, LPA, and a team of celebrities, who wanted to shine a light on cyber-bullying and reclaim fatphobic messages they've received from online trolls.

A statement to Fox News read:

"The capsule collection – originally conceived by LPA alongside Lena Dunham, Emily Ratajkowski, Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse and Paloma Elsesser – was set to debut tomorrow as a direct commentary on the modern day 'normality' of cyber-bullying and the shared desire to create a community for those most affected by the epidemic.  Proceeds were set to benefit 'Girls Write Now', a charity focused on mentoring underserved young women and helping them find their voices and tell their stories through writing."

They also explained that the message was misinterpreted as the tops were released without "context of the overall campaign" and "featured one of the pieces on a model who's size was not reflective of the piece’s commentary on body positivity."

Revolve apologized "to all those involved" in their statement and on social media, then announced that they have pulled the collection and will be donating $20,000 to charity.

The quote on the sweater was a message someone once sent to plus size model Paloma Elsesser.

While chatting with U.K.-based artist Florence Given, she echoed Revolve's statement, revealing that "the point was to shine the line on how horrible trolling is...so basically it's the opposite of what it seems."

Elsesser has since contacted LPA to have the quote removed from the tops.

Girls star and writer Lena Dunham has also since opened up about the controversy, and while she's taking credit for being part of the project, she is calling out Revolve for the way they modeled the pieces.

She also revealed her plans to donate to the "charity of every woman’s choice who was wronged with me."

In a statement posted on Instagram, she wrote:

"For months I’ve been working on a collaboration with LPA through parent company @revolve – sweatshirts that highlight quotes from prominent women who have experienced internet trolling & abuse. This is a cause very close to my heart and the proceeds were meant to benefit charities that help young women by empowering them to express themselves through writing and art.

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.

I am deeply disappointed in @revolve’s handling of a sensitive topic and a collaboration rooted in reclaiming the words of internet trolls to celebrate the beauty in diversity and bodies and experiences that aren’t the industry norm.”

I’d like to especially extend my love and support to @palomija, whose quote was the first to be promoted and mangled. She’s a hero of mine,” Dunham said. “Like me, she gave her quote in good faith and shared her vulnerability in order to support arts education and to spread her message of empowerment, and she wasn’t consulted in the marketing. Not an ounce of negativity should be sent her way.

My only goal on this planet is to empower women through art and dialogue. I’m grateful to every woman who shared a quote and so disappointed that our words were not honored. As a result, I will be making a donation to the charity of every woman’s choice who was wronged with me and I hope that @revolve will join me with a contribution of their own."

While we're sure their intentions weren't bad, it seems like we can all agree that LPA and Revolves missed the mark by printing the quote's attribution in a smaller font and then choosing a skinny model to show off the design.

This definitely serves as a lesson to Revolve, and a reminder but to other brands that they should think twice before they release their products.

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.