Alie Ward (a science correspondent on CBS and host of the comedic science podcast “Ologies”) first brought the plates to nationwide attention when she tweeted this image, along with the call to ban the plates in all 50 states:
— Alie Ward (@alieward) July 21, 2019
The plates feature concentric circles, with the biggest circled labeled “mom jeans,” the middle circle deemed “favorite jeans” and the smallest circle labeled “skinny jeans.”
It is no mystery why Ward and many other women have found this message so harmful and upsetting. Eating disorders are deadly, claiming a life every 62 minutes, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD). While men suffer from eating disorders as well, they predominantly impact women, with 7 million women and 1 million men suffering from eating disorders, according to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.
Hence, it is doubly upsetting that these plates are firmly geared towards women (“mom jeans,” “skinny jeans”), suggesting that the burden of losing weight and appearing thin should be something women and girls take on.
According to Common Sense Media, 80% of 10-year-old girls say they have been on a diet, so these dangerous messages about being thin affect not just women, but also vulnerable young girls.
Luckily, Macy’s moved quickly to address concerns about these Pourtions plates. The retailer removed the plates from the display at their flagship store in Manhattan, and agreed that the design was a poor choice.
Hi, Alie — we appreciate you sharing this with us and agree that we missed the mark on this product. It will be removed from all STORY at Macy's locations.
— Macy's (@Macys) July 22, 2019
Meanwhile, the company behind the plates offered a comment to Huffington Post.
“Pourtions is intended to support healthy eating and drinking,” said Pourtions’ president Mary Cassidy. “We know this is serious business. We also believe a touch of humor can, for some, be just the right touch.”
As for Ward, she clarifies that she wasn’t literally calling for the plates to be banned, but rather drawing attention to the sexist and regressive messages behind the plates’ design. “‘Banned’ was hyperbole — I just think this logic is flawed, harmful & people shouldn’t make money off of making women feel bad,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Banned” was hyperbole — I just think this logic is flawed, harmful & people shouldn’t make money off of making women feel bad— but Macy’s agrees and is pulling them. General sidenote: speak up for others, contact your reps & vote in local, state & national elections k thanx https://t.co/TfFvqcIVI1
— Alie Ward (@alieward) July 22, 2019
She also explained that this issue was personal to her, as she has known many women who struggled with eating disorders.
“When you take half a population and make them think that their power is in their value as a sexual object, you weaken their voice as a whole and you end up with a system that’s lopsided and out of balance,” Ward wrote to Huffington Post in an email.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, visit the National Eating Disorders Association.