Plus size retailer Taking Shape decided they wanted to do something during London Fashion Week that would make a bold statement celebrating all sizes. The retailer, who offers women’s clothing in sizes 14 to 26, wanted to talk to the lack of diversity on the runway, where only size 6 models are currently seen. A UK size 6 is a size 4 in the US.
But instead, the move turned into a negative one for the retailer, with many speaking out on social media about how the retailer was actually body shaming and not promoting body confidence and diversity.
Taking Shape created a “skinny bird watching” booth outside Somerset House, a London Fashion Week venue. Bird means “girl” in England and the premise of the booth was for staff to spy on thin women in birdwatching style with binoculars. They even had a hashtag to support the booth called #skinnybirdwatching.
According to Styleite.com, the retailer “compared size 6 women to ‘rare exotic birds’ who ‘dominate[s] the London scene.’ The joke was supposed to be that these women aren’t actually rare because they’re the only acceptable shape on runways. They publicized illustrations of models above descriptions written in the style of an informational text on bird species.”
Many people were not happy with the booth and the “skinny bird watching”, calling it body shaming towards thin women. And what do many do when they’re angry these days? They take to social media, of course! The complaints piled up on Twitter…
“Cringing at the @TakingShapeUK #SkinnyBirdWatching campaign. WHY BASH ONE BODY TO MAKE ANOTHER SEEM OK? Body shaming at any size is just grim. – Danie Vanier (@VanierDanielle)”
“#SkinnyBirdWatching is a terrible terrible idea! shame on you @TakingShapeUK shame on you! – Jessica Listening (@JESSlistening)”
“Who’s with me? Let’s use #FatBirdWatching to show @TakingShapeUK the error of their #SkinnyBirdWatching ways. – Daisy (@MissInformed11)”
“As a naturally petite ‘real’ woman I find #skinnybirdwatching to be offensive + a complete load of bunkum. Bunkum is Anglo-Indian for CRAP. – Jenny G. (@beautandbiryani)”
“I’m the target demographic for @TakingShapeUK but after their body-shaming #SkinnyBirdWatching nonsense I’ll be shopping elsewhere. – Samantha Gouldson (@SamGouldson)”
After seeing the complaints, Taking Shape issued the following statement:
“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.”
What do you think of Taking Shape’s “Skinny Bird Watching” booth during London Fashion Week? Please leave us a comment below and let us know.