Outfitting Young Adults for Eating Disorders

2010-02-01-picture7[dropcap]E[/dropcap]ver heard of Urban Outfitters? Chances are that you have at least one time or another. UO is a fortune 500 company that caters to 18 to 24 year-olds as their primary consumers and teens younger than 18 years old as their secondary consumers. The extremely popular company released a v-neck shirt with the words ‘Eat Less’ printed in slanted script in 2010. Outrage ensued and the company received severe backlash from the public’s eye. The shirt was promptly taken off of the online website on June 2010 but that did not hinder the blogging community from attacking the company by saying that they promoted eating disorders. The company has produced multiple risky products in the past but this shirt was highly regarded as tasteless sense in the public’s opinion. The blogging community quickly took to what they did best, blog, to share their distaste and opinions on the shirt. The ‘paper thin’ model seemed to rile up the public even more by assuming that the company backed this statement because of the model they chose. While it may look bad at a glance, many protesters of the shirt didn’t notice the description, which stated, “Eat less or more or however much you’d like in this seriously soft knit tee cut long and topped with a v-neck.” Whether this statement slightly alters your first impression of the shirt or the company it is best to know all the facts before reaching your verdict on the intentions of the shirt.

07-urban-outfitters-depression-w529-h352Urban Outfitters is a widely popular company that offers bohemian, hipster, ironically humorous, retro, and vintage apparel at an above average cost. When you browse their online store you can expect to find pretty unique clothing outfitted onto considerably thin models. The tactic may simply be to appeal to the viewer or can also be seen as an idealized body shape pushed into consumer's minds by the company. UO is not alone in this, Brandy Melville, American Eagle, Hollister, and Free People are just a few other brands that push this ‘idealized’ body shape into the minds of young adults. The only difference is that Urban has made ‘humorous’ apparel out of these standards that outrages the public. The public created such a media frenzy over these two words on a simple shirt because the public knew that some young females would take this to heart and create eating disorders for themselves but also because those who were offended believed the shirt was making fun of eating disorders.

This is not the first time Urban has come out with products that were soon taken off the site for being far too controversial. In the past, Urban has come out with a cropped monochromatic t-shirt that is covered with the word ‘depression’ in different sized fonts. This led to another social media outcry accusing UO for making fun of a mental illness. Apart from other badly designed shirts the company has also make mistakes with their nomenclature, naming one of their BDG shirt colors Obama/Black. This was a computer error on their part but nonetheless the company received countless complaints and severe backlash as well. While Urban cannot defend itself by simply saying it was a computer malfunction that a shirt was designed to say ‘Eat Less’ there is certainly no doubt that there is a trend of highly controversial and outrageously designed/named  products from Urban Outfitters.

The main stream company, Urban Outfitters, tailors to a majority of young adults with it’s unique apparel and while the company is popular for it’s diversity in fashion styles it is also popular for its controversial products that cause public outcry.  Whether or not you believe Urban Outfitters promotes eating disorders, it would be safe to say that it was probably not in the company’s main interest to release such a controversial shirt. So do you believe the ‘Eat Less’ v-neck was ironically tasteful or horribly distasteful?