Yesterday, New Look became another brand slammed for appearing to encourage unhealthy eating habits.
The store was selling a nightshirt (it’s since been taken down) which read: ‘My heart says donuts, but my jeans say juicing.‘
Quite rightly, people were outraged. Some described it as a way to make women hate their bodies.
Others suggested it was the wrong message to be sending to young girls.
And, most seriously, some bashed the shirt for ‘contributing to eating disorders’.
These opinions are all valid. The shirt was stupid. It was in bad taste. It was potentially damaging to the body confidence young women so desperately need – and it’s New Look’s responsibility to ensure this doesn’t happen.
But was it completely New Look’s fault? No, I don’t think so.
Brands tend to style their clothes on the current trend. Think about the number of avocados we’ve seen on the socks and underwear from clothing companies attempting to please what millennials.
Take The Barbie collections we’ve seen from Missguided, inspired by everything people feel is missing from Barbie, answering complaints that she’s not representative of young women in any way, shape or form, by showing her sprawled in bed, cancelling on plans, and putting a middle finger up to f*ck boys (aka Ken).
That’s what’s happened with New Look. They were trying to relate to their customers in order to make a few quid.
While New Look has since recalled the shirt after people made it clear they weren’t happy about it, there’s still a problem.
The fact is, brands will continue to release shirts like these because they’ve been inspired by what’s trending. It’s a sad fact that until complaints are shared loudly, the likes of these fad diet inspired shirts will remain on shops’ coat hangers.
We are the only ones that can change these shirts becoming a thing.
It’s well-understood that juicing isn’t a healthy diet. It’s one that people struggle to maintain – and for good reason, as it can lead to sugar spikes and fainting.
But that doesn’t stop people from posting about juicing on social media. Search #juicing on Instagram and you’ll find over one-and-a-half mentions. #JuicingForWeightloss has 20,000, #JuiceCleanse 466,000, and #JuicingForHealth 76,000.
These hashtags don’t just come from the standard person attempting two days at juicing before giving into a takeaway. They come from celebrities, who have been paid to endorse brands on their social media, despite the diet carrying negative effects.
They come from fitness-fanatics who, quite frankly, should know better.
These hashtags are dangerous. How often do we scroll through Instagram and end up feeling worse about ourselves?
We see people’s ‘luxury lives’ (or at least, what they want us to see of them), their toned bodies, and their healthy meals. And then we feel bad about the McDonald’s we ate the night before and convince ourselves it’s time to diet. We compare our bodies to the people we see online and wonder whether we’re good enough.
And what better way to change than to follow in the footsteps of slim, toned Instagram stars who claim juicing is the best way to get a flat stomach in no time, that it makes you feel healthier? And hey, juices are always worthy of an Instagram photo, right?
What these people don’t tell you is that juicing won’t give you long-lasting results, and after a ‘cleanse’ you’re likely to gain any weight loss back.
That doesn’t seem to matter to these social media ‘influencers’. Because negative results don’t sell.
How can we sit here and slam New Look for promoting an approach to dieting that’s plastered all over Instagram by potential customers? Sure, they’re a worldwide company with a marketing team who should know better. They should’ve re-read that shirt at least 100 times more to ensure the message they were sending was safe to the store’s target audience.
But when it’s us giving said marketing team the inspiration – surely we should step back and take a look at how we’re influencing young women and making them feel about their bodies, too. And worse – how we’re influencing brands to create clothing based on these hashtags .
The less they see it on social media, the more brands will realise fad diets and unhealthy living quotes are not safe, and definitely not worthy of being on t-shirts.
And how can we start encouraging this? By losing the hashtags, changing our attitudes to health and body image, and calling out the promotion of fad diets wherever we see it – not just when it shows up on a T-shirt.