To Whom It May Concern,
I am saddened and angered by Urban Outfitter’s carrying a T-shirt that says “Eat Less” depicted on a young woman. I honestly cannot understand WHO manufactured such a message and WHO would approve this at UO to be sold to a national audience of young women.
I am sure you have received plenty of emails from people stating that anorexia nervosa and eating disorders are no joke, and are deadly. In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Millions more are struggling with binge eating disorder (Crowther et al., 1992; Fairburn et al., 1993; Gordon, 1990; Hoek, 1995; Shisslak et al., 1995). Anorexia nervosa has the highest premature fatality rate of any mental illness (Sullivan, 1995). 91% of women recently surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 40% of newly identified cases of anorexia are in girls 15-19 years old, and I believe your Target Market is within this age range. Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives (Neumark-Sztainer, 2005).
I find it irresponsible of Urban Outfitters to support a message that encourages unhealthy behaviors that are potential risk factors for developing an eating disorder.
As an Eating Disorder/Body Image Advocate and someone who is in Recovery from numerous eating disorders, I cannot support Urban Outfitters or the message they are sending to young girls, young women and the general public. There are enough myths and stereotypes regarding eating disorders in the media on a daily basis.
I would like to know WHAT are the intentions of Urban Outfitters or the manufacturer of this T-Shirt? What are they trying to tell young women? Urban Outfitters is a national chain, and has a great opportunity to empower women by choosing products and messages that could help lift young girls and women, versus telling them to “Eat Less”. With two simple words you are telling young people and the public it is OK to follow an unhealthy message. Women get ENOUGH mixed messages and negative pressure from the fashion industry in general and particular stores that don’t carry sizes for all types of body shapes and sizes.
As a Body Image advocate and a woman, I am concerned for the messages national chains are sending to young women. We have children as young as 5 concerned about gaining weight, wanting to be on diets and developing self esteem/body image issues that could potentially last a lifetime, and potentially lead to pathological issues. We have children who are overweight subject to bullying and teasing. Young children and teens worry about fitting an “ideal” body type that is not healthy, and this T-shirt supports the message that it is 1) ok to diet and 2) ok not to eat. I can’t imagine anyone thinking this is an empowering or healthy message to be sending to young women.
It is time for corporations who sell products to young adults to be mindful and responsible for the messages they send to the public. Urban Outfitters has a choice with every product it sells. It is also time for the consumer to use their power of choice; the money they use and the messages they support with the products they purchase.
I would encourage ALL parents, teens, young adults (of ALL genders) to NOT shop at Urban Outfitters if this is the kind of message they want to send. I hope this T-shirt is taken down and a public message is sent to the public regarding its sale.
I would refer you to:
National Eating Disorders Association’s
Information and Referral Helpline: 1-800-931-2237
and website: www.NationalEatingDisorders.org
Founder, Voice in Recovery (TM)