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Old 07-30-2010, 11:43 PM   #1
thirtiesgirl
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Default Lane Bryant faux pas

The back story: Australian fat-o-sphere blogger Definatalie has a CafePress store in which she sells humorous fat-positive t-shirts, gym bags and other items. One of her new t-shirts has a cartoony speech bubble on the front with the words "Does my FAT ARSE look fat in this?" in it.

What Lane Bryant did: Someone from the Lane Bryant marketing committee in charge of their twitter account, made this tweet: "Is this really necessary? We say NO! Share your thoughts." The tweet included a link to the "fat arse" t-shirt from Definatalie's CafePress store, which is what the "this" in LB's tweet referred to.

What happened next: A bunch of LB followers on twitter lambasted LB for the tweet and for not seeming to get that the message on Definatalie's t-shirt is sarcastic. Quite a little shit-storm was stirred up.

What LB did next: They issued a public apology for the tweet, claiming it was a "knee-jerk reaction and a misinterpretation."

You can read Lesley from Fatshionista's opinion on the issue, and a general rundown of events here. There's also a discussion of LB's public apology in the Livejournal Fatshionista community, here.

My personal jury is still out on this issue. On the one hand, I've never really been a fan of LB. I feel their prices are far too expensive for the quality of their items, and I don't like much of what they have to offer either. I don't find most of their clothes to be stylish or unique. I was also disappointed when they took a majority of their Right Fit jeans out of their stores, so that anyone who wore something other than Right Fit reds was relegated to shopping online. (Right Fit jeans are the only thing I shop for at LB.) I'm glad to see they've brought all cuts of Right Fit jeans back in store, but that's still not going to change my poor opinion of other aspects about LB.

That said, I'm glad LB issued the public apology for their ridiculous, alienating tweet. That was the right thing for them to do. Whether or not the person in charge of making LB tweets truly didn't recognize the sarcasm of Definatalie's t-shirt, the tweet was very misguided and alienating, and I'm glad LB did the right thing and apologized to their twitter public.

As Lesley wrote on her Fatshionista blog, the apology was largely due to the numbers of people who lambasted LB for the wrongful tweet. Which is something to consider when thinking about some of my other issues with Lane Bryant, which I've heard from many other fat women, too. Maybe if we all made a concerted effort to tell them that the quality of most of their items doesn't merit the cost, and that they need to do better when it comes to style, LB might start to step it up a little and create items that we actually want to wear. I'd be willing to pay $59 for a sweater if it was actually made well and I liked it.
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Old 07-31-2010, 09:03 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by thirtiesgirl View Post
The back story: Australian fat-o-sphere blogger Definatalie has a CafePress store in which she sells humorous fat-positive t-shirts, gym bags and other items. One of her new t-shirts has a cartoony speech bubble on the front with the words "Does my FAT ARSE look fat in this?" in it.

What Lane Bryant did: Someone from the Lane Bryant marketing committee in charge of their twitter account, made this tweet: "Is this really necessary? We say NO! Share your thoughts." The tweet included a link to the "fat arse" t-shirt from Definatalie's CafePress store, which is what the "this" in LB's tweet referred to.

What happened next: A bunch of LB followers on twitter lambasted LB for the tweet and for not seeming to get that the message on Definatalie's t-shirt is sarcastic. Quite a little shit-storm was stirred up.

What LB did next: They issued a public apology for the tweet, claiming it was a "knee-jerk reaction and a misinterpretation."

You can read Lesley from Fatshionista's opinion on the issue, and a general rundown of events here. There's also a discussion of LB's public apology in the Livejournal Fatshionista community, here.

My personal jury is still out on this issue. On the one hand, I've never really been a fan of LB. I feel their prices are far too expensive for the quality of their items, and I don't like much of what they have to offer either. I don't find most of their clothes to be stylish or unique. I was also disappointed when they took a majority of their Right Fit jeans out of their stores, so that anyone who wore something other than Right Fit reds was relegated to shopping online. (Right Fit jeans are the only thing I shop for at LB.) I'm glad to see they've brought all cuts of Right Fit jeans back in store, but that's still not going to change my poor opinion of other aspects about LB.

That said, I'm glad LB issued the public apology for their ridiculous, alienating tweet. That was the right thing for them to do. Whether or not the person in charge of making LB tweets truly didn't recognize the sarcasm of Definatalie's t-shirt, the tweet was very misguided and alienating, and I'm glad LB did the right thing and apologized to their twitter public.

As Lesley wrote on her Fatshionista blog, the apology was largely due to the numbers of people who lambasted LB for the wrongful tweet. Which is something to consider when thinking about some of my other issues with Lane Bryant, which I've heard from many other fat women, too. Maybe if we all made a concerted effort to tell them that the quality of most of their items doesn't merit the cost, and that they need to do better when it comes to style, LB might start to step it up a little and create items that we actually want to wear. I'd be willing to pay $59 for a sweater if it was actually made well and I liked it.
I am not connected to the fatosphere or fatshionista community at all so I have no first hand knowledge on what the mood or vibe is surrounding this issue. I can say at first glance though that LBs remarks are just an opinion. While I may or may not agree (I'm not sure yet) I think it's simply an alternative view and not really indicative of something distructive or harmful to the fat community. I'm reluctant to all out villify them over this comment.

I do agree with you about their clothes though. They opened up a new line called Loop 22 or something like that, and it was simply ghastly. I litterally had visions of it looming about in my dreams and woke with a shudder. Horrible. Do they really think fat people want to look like lumberjacks or kitchen curtains? I'm far from a visionary but come on. That line is near insulting. If I were a 14 year old and walked in on that line I'd go home crying and depressed. I think a letter writing campaign is in order.
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Old 07-31-2010, 09:08 AM   #3
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LB has been bitterly disappointing me with their 'fashions' for years.
No creativity whatsoever.
By the way, I have had a, 'Does my fat ass make my ass look fat' bumper sticker on my car for over 5 years.
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Old 07-31-2010, 03:17 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by LillyBBBW View Post
I am not connected to the fatosphere or fatshionista community at all so I have no first hand knowledge on what the mood or vibe is surrounding this issue. I can say at first glance though that LBs remarks are just an opinion. While I may or may not agree (I'm not sure yet) I think it's simply an alternative view and not really indicative of something distructive or harmful to the fat community. I'm reluctant to all out villify them over this comment.
My issue with it is three-fold: one, I think the person who works for LB marketing and is responsible for making all tweets on their page is kind of dumb for not recognizing the sarcasm. Two, the fact that LB (or at least the person responsible for writing their tweets) assumes the word "fat" is bad shows that they're not supportive of the tenets of fat acceptance. Assuming "fat" is a bad word (i.e., lazy, unattractive, slovenly, etc.) is alienating to a large number of people who shop their stores who don't feel the same way about the word and would describe themselves as "fat people."

Thirdly, as Lesley mentioned on Fatshionista!, it's also alienating to Definatalie's avid readership, of which there are many, including a large number of people who shop at Lane Bryant, whether they do so because they like LB or simply because there aren't many other plus size options where they're located. By expressing open negativity about something Definatalie is marketing in her CafePress store, LB is alienating a lot of her readers. To quote directly from Lesley's blog entry, LB "thought it was totally acceptable to rag on an independent plus-sized artist and blogger who lives in...Australia for making a t-shirt that they deem 'unnecessary.'" And "itís not such a radical idea that a plus-size clothing store [LB] should want to promote itself as a place where plus-size-wearing people can go to feel good about themselves. Itís not so unthinkable that such an environment would be good for business. And it seems to go without saying that dissing a prominent plus-size blogger and thereby alienating many of that storeís customers ó hilariously, many of their most vocal customers at that! ó is not the wisest way of going about it."
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Old 08-03-2010, 12:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by thirtiesgirl View Post
My issue with it is three-fold: one, I think the person who works for LB marketing and is responsible for making all tweets on their page is kind of dumb for not recognizing the sarcasm. Two, the fact that LB (or at least the person responsible for writing their tweets) assumes the word "fat" is bad shows that they're not supportive of the tenets of fat acceptance. Assuming "fat" is a bad word (i.e., lazy, unattractive, slovenly, etc.) is alienating to a large number of people who shop their stores who don't feel the same way about the word and would describe themselves as "fat people."

Thirdly, as Lesley mentioned on Fatshionista!, it's also alienating to Definatalie's avid readership, of which there are many, including a large number of people who shop at Lane Bryant, whether they do so because they like LB or simply because there aren't many other plus size options where they're located. By expressing open negativity about something Definatalie is marketing in her CafePress store, LB is alienating a lot of her readers. To quote directly from Lesley's blog entry, LB "thought it was totally acceptable to rag on an independent plus-sized artist and blogger who lives in...Australia for making a t-shirt that they deem 'unnecessary.'" And "it’s not such a radical idea that a plus-size clothing store [LB] should want to promote itself as a place where plus-size-wearing people can go to feel good about themselves. It’s not so unthinkable that such an environment would be good for business. And it seems to go without saying that dissing a prominent plus-size blogger and thereby alienating many of that store’s customers — hilariously, many of their most vocal customers at that! — is not the wisest way of going about it."
Sorry thirtiesgirl. I had been meaning to respond to this but got distracted elsewhere. I can definitley see your points. It is also puzzling to me that Lane Bryant, a company that made headlines a few months ago flaunting the injustice of having their bra ad censored on prime time TV, would make this kind of gaffe now. During that story I have to admit, I rasied an eyebrow when LB was making a fuss. It seemed very uncharacteristic for them. This latest story seems more like the LB I'm accustomed to. They cater to people who hate themselves and would prefer to see their fashions shown on thin models.

My understanding is that a major portion of their patrons are ones who still cringe at the word 'fat' or making references to it at all. The fatosphere is growing but is still a very insular community. The amount of fat people I encounter every day in real life brings home the reality of this. It reminds me how most of the fat community, the generalized societal collective, still views itself. It would be great if companies like LB would lead the way in changing attitudes but I'm still reminded that they are a business and not activists. They're out to make money and would cease to exist if they didn't cater to the comfort of their customers, most of whom would not be caught dead in a shirt like that. To most, fat is still a fearsome word. I think it's perfectly reasonable for someone to perhaps start a dialogue about the subject that is inclusive of every POV, trying to get a feel for their consumer base. The way they did it may not have been the wisest choice though.

Also there are other reasons one might cringe when viewing Definatalie's slogan. There is a new description now that describes many fat activists as being flaming fatties. This is someone who wears fat ladies dangling from her ears, has fat figurines and nick nacks all over her house and has a canvas bag with the Willendorf Venus on it and some fat glorifying slogan. Some people, even confident fat ones, don't like that and think it's over the top. It's a personal choice I know but asking how people feel seems a perfectly innocent and inclusive concept where all views are being recognized.
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Old 08-03-2010, 02:07 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by LillyBBBW View Post
Also there are other reasons one might cringe when viewing Definatalie's slogan. There is a new description now that describes many fat activists as being flaming fatties. This is someone who wears fat ladies dangling from her ears, has fat figurines and nick nacks all over her house and has a canvas bag with the Willendorf Venus on it and some fat glorifying slogan. Some people, even confident fat ones, don't like that and think it's over the top. It's a personal choice I know but asking how people feel seems a perfectly innocent and inclusive concept where all views are being recognized.
See, this is where I disagree. I think the slogan has more to do with reappropriating the word fat from all the negative stereotypes that have been heaped on it for years. I don't see it as any proclamation of "flaming fatness," but as a more cheeky way of saying "I'm fat and proud," "fat does not equal unattractive," etc. LB can certainly ask their tweet-ership how they feel about the slogan, but proclaiming the slogan "unnecessary" was an unintentional show of fat dislike (I won't go so far as to say fat hatred) that doesn't do the company any service.

I agree that they're just a clothing company trying to make a buck and not trying to make a political statement or be part of the fat acceptance movement. Which is why I think they should stick to what they know and not make comments about people who are fat activists and trying to do their own marketing of their own independently created clothing.

And the thing is, there are a lot of Lane Bryant customers who would wear Definatalie's shirt. They're fat activists who are part of the fat-o-sphere and have no issues with the word fat. But because they live in parts of the country or the world where there aren't a lot of options for plus sized clothing, they're stuck with the few options they have, like Lane Bryant and Avenue. Wouldn't it be nice for LB to at least support their patrons who might agree with, like and even wear the shirt? They could have made a tweet like, "hey, we saw this shirt and we think it's kind of cool. What do you think?" Instead, they proclaimed it "unncessary," and that was uncool.
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