Does an 'Eat Less' T-Shirt Glamorize Anorexia?

Urban Outfitters tee is being blamed for promoting eating disorders

By now, we’ve all seen photos of some overweight guy sporting a T-shirt that declares, “I beat anorexia.”  The decision to wear such a top is obnoxious and annoying and makes light of an incredibly dangerous disease.

But what if the tables were turned and it was a thin woman rocking a tee-shirt chastising us all to "Eat less". Is that just as offensive? Does it promote and glamorize anorexia? Encourage starvation?

That’s what critics have been claiming of Urban Outfitter's new "Eat Less" top, a gray v-neck with white cursive. The shirt has since been pulled from the Urban Outfitter website, but the description used to read: "Eat less or more or however much you'd like in this seriously soft knit tee cut long and topped with a v-neck."

I’m not sure why people are surprised -– would we expect anything less from a company that once sold tops that proclaimed, “Everyone loves a Jewish Girl,” surrounded by dollar signs? Or a board game called Ghettopoly? Or a "New Mexico: Cleaner Than Regular Mexico" T-shirt?  Stores like Urban Outfitters, American Apparel and Abercrombie & Fitch thrive on provoking controversy with such items. Supply and demand comes into play here, too. For every ridiculous or offensive T-shirt that’s produced, there’s a schmuck who will buy it.

That said, I’m not particularly insulted by the top, and I used to live by the "Eat less" motto myself in college. If anyone should be upset, it’s myself as a former anorexic and current body image blogger. But it's a free world and if UO wants to manufacture inane products, it's their right. If consumers want to buy said products and embarrass themselves by wearing them, so be it. Perhaps we should thank Urban for saving us the time and effort spent on getting to know someone because the instant you see someone in a (grammatically incorrect) “Fathers it’s up to you to protect your daughters virginity” top, you just know that’s not the kind of person you’d want to be friends with.

Also, this is a bit beside point, but the fact is, most people in this country SHOULD eat less. Not for a minute do I think Urban Outfitters designed this shirt with a heartfelt anti-obesity public health message in mind, but it is true. I could see Michael Pollan handing out tee-shirts at book signings for The Omnivore's Dilemma emblazoned with the words, "Eat less," just like the American Lung Association wants us to "Stop smoking," or the government wants us to "Say no to drugs." (Context is also key here. An ultra-thin woman who has an "Eat less" shirt hanging from her collarbone is much different than a healthy Registered Dietician doing so as part of a legit public health effort.)

I don’t think Urban Outfitters actually wants people to starve themselves into heart arrhythmias and organ failure. I just think it was a dumb tee-shirt likely dreamed up by a 22-year-old while playing Flip-cup with his buddies. If we collectively ignored such immature message tees, much like a gnat at a BBQ or an annoying office gossip-hound, chances are, it’ll eventually just go away.

What do you think of the T-shirt? Is it offensive or just lame? What's the most offensive or stupidest T-shirt you've ever seen? Chime in below.



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