02/25/2015 10:35 EST | Updated 02/25/2015 10:59 EST

This Plus-Size Retailer Took Skinny Shaming Too Far


We're all for celebrating different shapes and sizes, but one plus-size retailer took things too far.

Taking Shape decided to make a bold statement about bringing "some focus to the curvy women of the world" during London Fashion Week, but the result was a skinny-shaming stunt.

The UK brand set up a "bird watching" booth on a London sidewalk, and enlisted staffers with binoculars to do some "skinny bird watching" ("bird" is British slang for "girl"). They even drew out sketches of these so-called "rare breeds," sharing them on social media with the hashtag #skinnybirdwatching."

However, many people quickly picked up that "Skinny Bird Watching" was essentially body shaming, and took to Twitter to express their concerns.

"Who sat down in the creative idea session and thought, yeah let's make slim girls feel rubbish to promote our brand? #SkinnyBirdWatching," wrote one woman.

"Skinny shaming is NOT the way forward. We should build the confidence of women in ALL shapes & sizes," tweeted London beauty blogger London Beauty Queen.

One woman even created her own hashtag, #FatBirdWatching, to show Taking Shape the error of their ways, and encouraged others to do the same.

Following the negative response on social media, Taking Shape posted the following message, with a link to its press release:

"Hi ladies - we are very sorry that many of you felt our stunt today at #LFW had a negative message, we apologise to anyone who was offended and are keen to state that our aim was never to body shame anyone. We believe that all women are beautiful and that all sizes and shapes should be represented in fashion. Check out the following press release which outlines our intentions. We hope you will see that as a brand we are all about empowering women to love their bodies and embrace fashion, no matter what their size."

While we understand where the brand is coming from, we agree with the women on social media: body shaming is body shaming, whether you're mocking a woman who is a size 0 or a size 22. As PopSugar puts it, "We all know that models don't faithfully represent consumers. It's an area of this industry that really needs to change and evolve, but surely the way to do that is to work together, not to add yet more fuel to the 'us and them' mentality."

Perhaps next time Taking Shape wants to promote body diversity, they should take a cue from ModCloth.

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