Lena Dunham & Fashion Company End Venture Over Shame of Using White Model (Plus: Hypnotic Shirts!)



Lena Dunham’s makin’ headlines.

On Thursday, some social media users pegged the outrage meter at 11.

The topic? A sweatshirt.

The villainous garment appeared on the website of fashion retailer Revolve: a slim, tan brunette sported an uneventful, drab top with the run-on sentence “BEING FAT IS NOT BEAUTIFUL IT’S AN EXCUSE” on the front.


Plus-size model Tess Holliday — whose tattooed, swimsuited image recently graced the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine — brought attention to the ad. Here’s Tess:


After Holliday’s tweeted introduction, a swarm of social justice descended like locusts, devouring the sarcasm printed on a field of cotton blend.

As it turned out, the clothing collection had been designed by Girls creator Lena Dunham. Shirts were to be plastered with real internet-troll insults, attacking alternate female body types.

Submitted for your approval, two possible ends to this scenario:

  1. People see the shirt and think, “Who cares.”
  2. Revolve explains that the slogans (of which others are “HORRIBLE RESULT OF MODERN FEMINISM” and “TOO BONEY TO BE BONED”) are sarcastic, and then everyone goes, “Oh.”

Neither one prevailed.

Instead, Revolve issued an apology, pulled the line, and donated money to a cause.

See the company’s statement to People magazine:

“This morning, images of a forth coming LPA collection were prematurely released on Revolve.com. 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.

“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.

“The collection has been pulled. We are proud to donate $20,000 to ‘Girls Write Now’ in the hopes that those who need it can still benefit from what was to be a meaningful, insightful and impactful collaboration by LPA.”


Furthermore, Dunham expressed her horror that the shirt had been — without her approval — pictured on a thin white woman.


Lena wrote:

“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. … 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.”


Can attraction be altered? Or is it biological?

Perhaps sweatshirts and magazines can’t change one’s basic instincts.

If they could, why not just sell all shirts all the time with the words “Lazy, sloppy, stinky, unkempt, filthy, sweaty, and gross are the most attractive things”? One and done — then everyone could just relax and be SUUUUPER HOT.

But if I had to guess, that’ll never come to pass.

More likely is the learning of lessons from this tragic tale of woe: Choose your model carefully, don’t feature thinness, don’t use sarcasm; apologize, recant, donate.

Maybe those last three words should be printed on a new run of shirts.



Thank you for reading! What do you think about all these things? I’d love to know. Please make it clear in the Comments section below.

Follow me — Alex Parker — on Twitter and Facebook; find all my RedState work here.

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