Macy’s has been criticized over dinnerware that some social media users found to be entirely too insensitive. The “politically incorrect” message on the plates was just too much for some people, who demanded their removal from store shelves — and Macy’s quickly caved. But, there was something they didn’t know.
Alie Ward, a writer and the host of what she calls “a comedyish science podcast,” didn’t find any humor in dinner plates being sold at Macy’s. Disgusted by the message the dinnerware promoted, she quickly took to Twitter to ask her followers, “How can I get these plates from @Macys banned in all 50 states?” The answer to her question was the post itself.
After Alie successfully created a backlash against the store over the novelty plates, CNN boldly declared, “Macy’s may have bitten off more than it could chew,” as it was announced that the retail giant was pulling “a line of porcelain plates advocating for smaller portion sizes.” That’s right; the plates that created so much controversy were promoting a healthy habit called portion control.
It only took Alie’s one complaint to get the plates pulled, as CNN reported, “The decision came in response to a customer’s tweet criticizing the plates’ message.” But, is the message really that bad? The plates, which retail for $9.50, were designed by the company Pourtions and feature three circles of increasing sizes. Those circles were labeled “skinny jeans,” “favorite jeans,” and “mom jeans,” according to their size.
When Alie Ward saw the plates featured in a display at Macy’s flagship Herald Square location in New York, she rolled her eyes, took out her phone, and tweeted out a photo in the now-infamous tweet, which quickly spread as outrage grew. Within hours, Macy’s responded, tweeting, “Hi, Alie — we appreciate you sharing this with us and agree that we missed the mark on this product. It will be removed from all STORY at Macy’s locations.”
Although Alie was happy with the decision, she offered Macy’s a warning along with her thank-you. “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,” she wrote. And, that was that, right? Not quite. As Alie celebrated her victory on Twitter, drawing even more attention to the “politically incorrect” plates, not everyone was thrilled by Macy’s decision.
“Here’s a crazy idea. If you have a problem with these plates, don’t buy them. Simple as that,” Louder with Crowder suggested, criticizing the jump to ban everything someone decides they don’t like. “The plates are clearly making a joke,” the writer added. Many agreed. Most saw the plates as a humorous, light-hearted way to encourage healthy habits, including the company that created them.
Unlike Macy’s, Pourtions isn’t pulling the plates. “We feel very strongly about the positive, light-hearted message conveyed by our glasses & plates. The response today has been overwhelmingly positive, including more interest in Pourtions & sales today than ever before,” President Mary Cassidy responded after hearing about Macy’s decision.
“As the creators of Pourtions, we feel badly if what was meant to be a lighthearted take on the important issue of portion control was hurtful to anyone,” the company added. “Pourtions is intended to support healthy eating and drinking. Everyone who has appreciated Pourtions knows that it can be tough sometimes to be as mindful and moderate in our eating and drinking as we’d like, but that a gentle reminder can make a difference.”
Alie Ward, however, feels differently, saying she “got sad for the people it would impact,” calling the plate’s message “a pointless joke with a cheap punchline,” which she feels “was ignorant and in poor taste.” She believes the message on the plates is a toxic one, promoting eating disorders. But, is it? Portion control is much different than an eating disorder, and the message on the plate is true. The more you eat, the bigger you tend to get. Is it out of line to humorously point out facts?
There’s another thing Alie Ward didn’t consider. “An estimated 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight,” according to The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The statistics on eating disorders pale in comparison with only up to 30 million people suffering from an eating disorder of any type, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder. While that sounds like a lot, Americans are over five times more likely to suffer from obesity or be overweight.
Since it seems Alie Ward’s concern is that the plate will encourage anorexia, an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat, let’s take a closer look at those statistics. “At any given point in time between 0.3-0.4% of young women and 0.1% of young men will suffer from anorexia nervosa,” according to The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Meanwhile, “Nearly three-quarters of American men and more than 60% of women are obese or overweight,” IHME reports.
The vast majority of American adults are overweight or obese, and it poses real problems to our health. So, it would seem that the message on the novelty plates is one that many need to hear. The plate isn’t encouraging anyone to starve themselves, work out excessively, or throw up after eating. It actually might be good for someone with an eating disorder to fill the “skinny jean” circle as a means of seeing the minimum they should be eating. In other words, the backlash and “banning” of the plates’ “offensive” message is more likely to do harm than any good.