Dolce & Gabbana‘s Fall/Winter collection includes a pair of sneakers that look a lot like your favorite pair in high school — you know, the ones you’d write on with a Sharpie during a boring lecture. But these adorable sneaks come already adorned with metal studs and tongue-in-cheek graffiti. One of those reads “I’m Thin & Gorgeous,” a phrase some online critics find problematic.
When accompanied by other sassy phrases, like “Sorry, I’m the best” and “More, more and more,” the wording seems like a funny take on the confidence of youth. They are designed to “reflect Millennial style,” according to the editors of Vogue France.
When Stefano Gabbana posted an image of the shoes by Japanese artist Jumpei Kawamura on Instagram, the majority of the comments where hearts and “Love!” But some followers were quick to point out the issue with this wording.
“You don’t think it’s a little unresponsible [sic] to push a message of ‘Thin and gorgeous’? I hope this will be followed by a message of inclusion of all bodies?” asked anna.elisabeth,olsson on Instagram.
“Thin?! I’m disappointed!” rossy_rl said.
Dolce & Gabbana reps have not yet returned a request for comment, but fans of the brand defended the design online. “For goodness sake – get a sense of humour!” Debbie.rutter wrote. “Do you look for the worst in EVERY situation?! Will you be boycotting @stefanogabbana next? I’m SO bored with this stuff. Get a life!”
The humorous intent behind the shoes doesn’t necessarily cancel out the fact that messages like this are a contributing factor of eating disorders, according to Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).
“Though there may be an element of cheeky humor at play in the design of these sneakers, equating thinness and beauty with success and status is a message that hurts everyone,” Mysko told Yahoo Style via email. “The fashion industry has a long history of glamorizing the thin ideal, and this message is one more example of the industry’s insistence on placing thinness on a pedestal. From billboards to social media, we live in a media-saturated environment that shapes how we see ourselves and others. When the prevailing message is thin is good, gorgeous is good, that becomes our priority, often at the expense of our health and well-being.”
Earlier this year, Gabbana called himself out for body-shaming. After Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl Halftime show, he posted a photo of the singer in her stomach-baring costume to Instagram. “I know it’s strange, but finally something real not retouched!” he wrote. “The truth, reality. Yesterday I criticized it too, but I though about it and I was wrong!!”
This kind of awareness is something Mysko wishes were more prevalent in the fashion industry.
“There is a clear demand for messaging and imagery that is more representative of all kinds of beauty, and the fashion industry would be wise to update their practices to reflect these values,” she said. “Fashion has the unique opportunity to catalyze change and celebrate every body, and while we’ve seen some brands making progress, there is still work to be done.”
For information on getting help for eating disorders, visit MyNEDA.org, or call the live help line (800) 931-2237.
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