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Urban Outfitters 'Eat Less' T-Shirt Creates Uproar

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Maggie Baumann: What comes to mind when you read the words "Eat Less" inscribed on the front of the T-shirt?

Well, by the looks of the slight-framed model wearing the T-shirt, you'd certainly not want to promote her to eat less.

This one T-shirt has caused a recent viral response over the Internet, especially on the website REVOLUTION OF REAL WOMEN ... an organization designed to provide global movement of females in reclaiming their freedom of individuality, self-esteem and unique beauty.

Revolution of Real Women (RRW) stated the "Eat Less" shirt sold by Urban Outfitters is crossing the lines and promoting a Pro-ana (Pro Anorexia) T-shirt. The uproar over the message this T-shirt promotes has presumably led Urban Outfitters to take off the shirt's photo from its website.

I checked Sunday, June 6, and went online to Urban Outfitters to see if there was an explanation regarding the T-shirt and I found no information on their blog or on its Twitter about the controversy surrounding it. The T-shirt has simply disappeared off the website, yet hasn't disappeared from its stores nationwide, according to RRW on a message posted on their wall as of Saturday, June 5.

Responses From the Crowd

Responses on the T-shirt message have varied, from many insulted by the words that send a dangerous message to girls, teens and women that could promote eating disorders, such as anorexia, to "so what" messages that people are overreacting to the words.

A big concern from many trying to prevent the spread of eating disorders is the words "Eat Less" condone actions expressed on the pro-ana and pro-mia (Pro-bulimia) websites. These sites send opposite messages to not fight against eating disorders but to actually accept eating disorders are a lifestyle choice. These sites provides tips, support and advice on how to lose weight and accept thin is in, no matter how thin.

My personal opinion when I saw the T-shirt was shock that any reputable clothing company could promote just the words "Eat Less" because to me it implies your body size is too big, so you better eat less in order to be acceptable within our culture's thinness standards. Having struggled with anorexia myself, I also fear that words "Eat Less" make starving yourself okay. From any way I look at it, I see the message as dangerous. I am in full support of Urban Outfitters donating the T-shirts in ripped pieces to car washes nationwide to help wash and dry cars!

Rebecca Bass-Ching, LMFT, a San Diego therapist who specializes in treating eating disorders responds with this reaction:

"I love Urban Outfitters and have enjoyed their products over the years. Yet, this T-shirt is another reminder that we still have to a long way to go in educating our community -- individual and corporate -- on the serious nature of food and body issues. With the increased focus on obesity issues these days, many think people just need to "eat less," which perpetuates the continued misconceptions around these matters while minimizing how destructive and even deadly eating disorders have on the lives of the millions suffering in our country alone. It is not about the food (i.e., eating less), it is about the emotions, genetics, coping mechanisms, personality temperaments and much, much more. I hope Urban Outfitters reconsiders keeping this T-shirt on the market so they are not glamourizing and therefore colluding with the life-robbing ability of these illnesses."

Exercise physiologist and body image/eating disorder expert Terri Graham, MS, of Orange County has another take on the message promoted:

"Aside from being stupid and pointless, the shirt is rude, arrogant and presumptuous. I am less concerned about it causing, encouraging or promoting eating disorders as much as inflicting hurtful self-blame and loathing on people who struggle with their weight, The shirt implies far more than its simple statement of 'eat less'. I doubt very highly that people who struggle with needing to lose a few pounds will wear this shirt. Instead it will be worn by people who are normal to underweight already, which will imply that they are somehow better and more in control of themselves, or even worse, that weight management is something as simple as 'eating less.' I feel it pokes fun at people who are overweight, encourages bullying or picking on people who need to lose weight, and will perpetuate body dysmorphic disorder and low-self esteem in young girls and teenagers who might need to drop a few pounds. I can definitely see the shirt being used by "mean girls" to taunt, bully and pick on their overweight peers in an almost passive aggressive manner. Even if it isn't intentional, overweight girls may perceive that the shirt and its message is aimed directly at them."

One recovered anorexic woman and mother of three girls Patty DesLauriers of North Carolina said:

"Instead of promoting a negative body image with the words 'Eat Less,' why not change the words on the shirt to encourage girls and women of every size. How about the message, 'I am me. I am not my size.'"

Approaching this message from a different angle are two responders who posted messages on RRW website.

'Gadgetman' stated:

"Who gives a crap? The fact that this is even news is symptomatic of just how superficial our culture has become."

Adding to this thought ,'Phredralf' wrote:

"America is the fattest country in the world, suggesting to 'eat less' isn't out of line. In fact, I second that emotion."

So what are your thoughts on this T-shirt's message? Is it tasteful or tasteless?


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