Another week another controversy regarding a too-skinny model. The surprising thing here, however, is that Gap is the guilty party—the same Gap that enthusiastically caters to all shapes and sizes. Instead of tweeting out the image of the Plaid Utility Shirtdress ($59.95) from their website, on which a wholesome looking redhead sports the look, they opted for an edgier shot on a much more slender model with a high-fashion look atypical to Gap’s usual promos. The simple caption reads: “Dress up your days in pastel plaid.” The retailer was highlighting a current garment for sale, but the brand’s 432,000 followers couldn’t see past the lanky model. Consumers replied with a range of emotion, from anger to disappointment, and some comments were perhaps more offensive than the original image:
@LittleLadyLH Aug 4: Seriously, @ Gap? In what world do people look like this? Perhaps you could select models who represent regular gals & not a skeletor ghost. @ KJ041912: Doesn’t the Gap feed it’s models? Seriously she looks ill. Please use healthy looking women in your ads next time
@ gggenevieveee: This picture is terrifying.
@ KateCForristallWe sell unhappiness by the pound. @upendi5 @ Gap looks like she needs a hamburger and some sunlight.
Yet the photo also sparked an intelligent discussion. While the phrase “she needs a hamburger” or “someone give this girl a sandwich” has become the default comment when discussing skinny models, one Twitter user was quick to point out what’s wrong with those words.
Meanwhile, GAP has made the decision to leave their controversial tweet as-is. Company spokesperson Edie Kissko shared the following statement: “Our intention is always to celebrate diversity in our marketing and champion people for who they are. Customer feedback is important to us and we think this is a valuable conversation to learn from.”
There is so much pressure on women to look a certain way or maintain a certain size, but the truth is everyone looks different and sometimes they can’t or don’t want to do anything to change that. While mass brands may be partially responsible for reinforcing beauty standards that are difficult or even impossible for most people to achieve, it is nice to have a diverse range of models represented in mainstream media. The best solution is for brands to use models in a variety of sizes and shapes so a larger population of women can see themselves represented. Because who isn’t more inclined to buy something when they can see what it will really look like on someone their size?