On Sunday, Alie Ward, a correspondent on “Innovation Nation,” got wind of a series of portion control plates sold at Macy’s. Ringed by shrinking circles labeled mom jeans, favorite jeans and, smallest of all, skinny jeans, Ward called out Macy’s plates for their harmful message about weight and disordered eating. Macy’s removed the plates following the criticism online.
Ward first posted on Twitter when she spotted the portion control plates at a Macy’s store in New York. She asked, “How can I get these plates from @Macys banned in all 50 states?”
— Alie Ward (@alieward) July 21, 2019
Ward wanted to highlight that Macy’s product, even if a play on more conventional portion plates, added to the negative messages and mixed information so many people receive about their bodies. Ward also pointed out how Macy’s plates could contribute to disordered eating as well given that an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men in the U.S. will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Eating Disorder Association.
“My call for a nationwide ‘ban’ was hyperbolic, but I do think that anyone who casually sees these can experience body shame, and I think it sends a really warped message to women specifically about starvation — as well as having no grasp on portion-sized and healthy eating choices,” Ward told BuzzFeed News. “Veggies take up way more room than mac ‘n’ cheese, so this doesn’t even help anyone have a healthier relationship to intuitive eating.”
Other advocates on social media quickly picked up Ward’s tweet. Many expressed disappointment and outrage for the plate’s message, saying it was body-shaming and sent a dangerous message about “healthy” portion sizes, especially for those who struggle with disordered eating. Twitter users urged Macy’s to remove the plates.
— Jameela Jamil ???? (@jameelajamil) July 22, 2019
— Miss Representation (@RepresentPledge) July 22, 2019
My thoughts when I saw these plates were, “Awful…but I want them. Oh no, I just got triggered.” That’s more dangerous than people realize for those of us struggling not to return to an ED.
— Isa (@PeacockGoals) July 22, 2019
Wow. If I went to someone’s house who served me food on these, it could set me back in my eating disorder recovery by weeks.
— ????Melissa Stone???? (@amongthygreen) July 22, 2019
These labeled plates are AWFUL and I am glad Macy’s has agreed to remove them. This fuels eating disorders.
— Susan Feldkamp (@SusanFeldkamp) July 22, 2019
In response to Ward’s and other’s criticism online, Macy’s said it would remove the jeans portion control plates from its stores. A Macy’s spokesperson confirmed the plates were removed from its inventory on Sunday. They were only available at one store in New York.
“We apologize to our customers for missing the mark on this product,” the spokesperson told The Mighty via an emailed statement. “After reviewing the complaint, we quickly removed the plates, which were only in our STORY at Macy’s location in Herald Square.”
Hi, Alie — we appreciate you sharing this with us and agree that we missed the mark on this product. It will be removed from all STORY at Macy’s locations.
— Macy’s (@Macys) July 22, 2019
The manufacturer of the plate, Pourtions, told BuzzFeed News the company’s intention was to design a light-hearted reminder to consider portion control and healthy eating. They expressed regret the plates caused harm:
As the creators of Pourtions, we feel badly if what was meant to be a lighthearted take on the important issue of portion control was hurtful to anyone. Pourtions is intended to support healthy eating and drinking. Everyone who has appreciated Pourtions knows that it can be tough sometimes to be as mindful and moderate in our eating and drinking as we’d like, but that a gentle reminder can make a difference. That was all we ever meant to encourage.