A company called Revolve released a sweatshirt earlier this week with a highly offensive message. It reads: “Being fat is not beautiful, it’s an excuse.”

Twitter of course went nuts about it and a lot of people who saw it tweeted their anger and frustration. Model and body-positive activist Tess Holliday posted a screenshot of the sweatshirt—which was modeled by a thin, white woman—writing, “LOLLLLL @REVOLVE y’all are a mess.” Many questioned how the sweatshirt was approved for sale in the first place.

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But the thing is, the sweatshirt was apparently never meant to be fatshaming in anyway, but bring attention to cyberbullying. The sweatshirt was designed by Pia Arrobio, who collaborated with actress and writer Lena Dunham, as well as Emily Ratajkowski, Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse, and Paloma Elsesser to create the line. 

Basically, each sweatshirt was supposed to feature a hateful or negative comment that has actually been directed at each participating celebrity.

But because the images were released with zero context, there was an obvious backlash. 

Both Lena Dunham and LPA took to Instagram in response to the backlash in an attempt to clarify the campaign, and Lena claimed Revolve marketed the sweatshirt without her input or consent. She said a lot in her Instagram post, but basically the end of it reads: "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."

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For months I’ve been working on a collaboration with my friend Pia’s company 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. This isn’t meant to shame Pia or the great work she’s done with LPA. 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. 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. *** P.S. This Rubens painting makes me happy because it’s about women joining in love, but he didn’t recognize diversity at all- he just loved curvy butts. Problematic fave.

A post shared by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

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Revolve released a statement to E! News which read: “The prematurely released images featured on Revolve.com was not only included without context of the overall campaign but regrettably featured one of the pieces on a model who’s size was not reflective of the piece’s commentary on body positivity. We at Revolve sincerely apologize to all those involved–particularly Lena, Emily, Cara, Suki and Paloma–our loyal customers, and the community as a whole for this error.” [sic]

Some critics have noted that Revolve doesn’t even sell clothes above a size XL, so those who might have felt empowered by wearing the slogan likely wouldn’t be able to purchase it in their size.

Now the company plan to donate $20 000 (about R300 000) to Girls Write Now which is an organisation that provides mentoring to struggling young women and helps them find their voices through writing. 

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