In light of a tasteless new addition to Urban Outfitter's clothing line, actress Sophia Bush announced earlier this summer that she planned to boycott the entire outlet. The item in question was an oversized shirt with the slogan "Eat Less" emblazoned on the front.
As a long-time advocate of positive body image in women, the star of One Tree Hill has dedicated past efforts to combatting the focus on the thin ideal. However, this trigger prompted her to react on an entirely different level. On her blog post she addressed a letter to Urban Outfitters with her thoughts on their t-shirt:
“You should issue a public apology, and make a hefty donation to a women’s organization that supports those stricken with eating disorders. I am sickened that anyone, on any board, in your gigantic company would have voted ‘yes’ on such a thing, let alone enough of you to manufacture an item with such a hurtful message. It’s like handing a suicidal person a loaded gun. You should know better.”
Her statements have resonated with many and her battle is not isolated. Similar triggering and demeaning designs have been put forward in other areas, from an "anorexia" Halloween costume to Abercrombie & Fitch refusing to sell their clothes to "fat people."
The question becomes how to deal with instances where companies seek to belittle serious mental illnesses or to judge people on the basis of their body size? Sophia Bush represents one of many individual efforts to go against these industries, but perhaps it is also time for a more concerted effort that reaches further.
Companies clearly have a hard time deciding what is appropriate merchandise and what seems funny to one person can be incredibly harmful to another. It is time to set some standards within the fashion industry that will catch merchandise like the "Eat Less" shirt before it even hits the shelves. These companies and the fashion industry as a whole could also greatly benefit from education on eating disorders and mental health, but that is another battle to fight for another day.