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Is it offensive?

Is it offensive?

Is It Offensive? | Tesco removes “Geek” slogan clothing following complaint

Tesco Geek Sleep pyjamas

Are they offensive? Tesco’s ‘Geek Sleep’ pyjamas

In what has to be one of the stranger editions of our sporadic “Is it Offensive?” series, today we ask you to cast your eyes over the slogan shirt above, and answer the question: is it offensive? 

At least one person out there thinks it is: and because of this, Tesco have pulled similarly printed items from its children’s range. The clothes in question all featured animals in glasses, accompanied by the words “nerd” or “geek”. You might think this is just the latest step in the ongoing trend-ification of the word “geek”, but Aneliese Whittaker, from Surrey, would disagree with you. Anelise’s 18-month old son, Logan, wears glasses due to cataracts, and his mother feels that the connection between glasses and “geeks” could encourage the bullying of children like him, who also wear spectacles.

Anelise says:

“Logan is regularly teased by other children for his goggle-like glasses and this is all before he has even stepped foot in the playground…’I understand that nerds and geeks are trendy now, but those words still have negative connotations to many. Those t-shirts were stereotyping, saying all people with glasses are nerds. It’s profiling, and it’s wrong.”

In a message posted on Tesco’s Facebook page, she added:

“It’s ‘fashion’ statements like this that give children the negative associations to glasses.Teaching children that you are a ‘geek’ if you wear glasses, and are of a lower self-worth than the ‘rest of the gang,’ although it may only seem like a t-shirt to some people it’s things like this that encourage bullying, damage self-image and leave a lasting idea in a young impressionable mind. Why is it OK to have a negative connotation associated to someone’s impairment? Why should my son grow up with people making fun of him because it’s ‘fashionable’?”

It’s certainly true that the words “nerd” and “geek” have started to change their meanings in recent years, and are now used as badges or honour, by people who aren’t even remotely “nerd-like” or “geekish”, in the traditional sense of those words. We wrote last year about how “geek” has become synonymous with “hipster”, with people eagerly proclaiming themselves to be “OMG, SUCH A GEEK!”, just because they watch Doctor Who, but the fact is, it wasn’t always this way. Words like “geek” and “nerd” do, indeed, still have negative connotations for some, which is why Aneliese Whittaker is so offended to see them used on fashion items.

Is she right? Tesco presumably think so: they responded to her complaint by pulling the items in question from its children’s ranges (the image at the top of the page comes from their women’s section, which still appears to be selling the pyjamas in question), and apologising for any offence caused. In an email to Anelise, a Tesco spokesperson wrote:

“The glasses/geek/nerd/dork graphic trend has been massive on the high street, and from a fashion perspective the words and glasses have been reclaimed as a sign of in fact being cool and trendy. However, I completely understand why you feel that this style might cause offence. I am very sorry that this has upset you, in no way did we intend for this t-shirt to suggest that it is OK to call any child names. I always see things from a design and trend perspective, but in this case I have not considered that this might be viewed by some as a negative association. Further to your complaint, the garment will be marked down and will be removed from the shop floor shortly.”

What do you think? Is the association between geeks and glasses offensive to you? Do you think it’s likely to encourage bullying? Should Tesco have removed the items from their stores, or is it an over-reaction  to a simple item of clothing?

Is it offensive?

Is it offensive?

Is it offensive? The Ardorous X American Apparel Period Power Washed Tee (Images NSFW)

It’s been a long time since our last “Is It Offensive?” post, in which we look at fashion items which have been deemed “offensive” by some sections of society, and as our readers: IS IT offensive? Or is it simply a case of people getting their knickers in a twist over nothing in particular? Today, we look at Petra Collins’ ‘Period Power’ t-shirt for American Apparel, which depicts… actually, it would probably be easier to show than to tell with this one:

Petra Collins 'Period Power' t-short for American Apparel

Buy it here

With an image designed by Toronto-born artist Petra Collins, the shirt currently retails for $32 at American Apparel, where Collins once worked as a sales associate. Collins says:

“I decided to put a super-taboo topic right on a t-shirt to make it viewable for everyone. I’m really interested in what is hidden from our culture. We are always repressing or hiding what is natural to a post-pubescent body. We’re taught to hate our menstrual cycle and even to hide masturbation.”

Not everyone, however, is as comfortable with the image as Collins is. Some have called it yet another cynical ploy by American Apparel, who have never shied away from the use of controversy to sell clothes. Others are simply repulsed by the image, and even many of those who appreciate the taboo-busting message have questioned why anyone would actually want to WEAR such a graphic image. Pointing out that 50% of the proceeds from the shirt will go to female art collective The Androgynous (Be aware that the images on that page may not be safe for work either…),  Jezebel comments: “It seems like a cool project to want to support. But the question remains: where the f***would one wear a menstruating vagina shirt?”

Where indeed: it strikes us that even if you support the message of this shirt, and don’t consider it to be just another way to exploit women’s bodies for shock value, there must be limited opportunities to wear such an item. Indeed, many media outlets are refusing to even run the image alongside their editorials on the subject, claiming it’s too offensive to print. So where would you wear it, assuming you WOULD actually wear it in the first place? In other words…

Is it offensive?

Fashion News, Is it offensive?

Is it offensive? Drop Dead Clothing’s “Anorexic” Model

Advert featuring a size 8 model banned for glamourising anorexia

We seem to be spending a lot of time worrying about whether things are offensive or not lately, but the Advertising Standards Agency will keep banning fashion adverts, so here’s the latest conundrum for our readers to answer:

Is this model glamorizing anorexia?

The ASA thinks she is: they’ve banned adverts featuring her from appearing on Drop Dead Clothing’s website on the grounds that they’re socially irresponsible as the model is “too thin”.

Their statement:

“We considered that in combination with the stretched out pose and heavy eye make-up, the model looked underweight in the pictures. We noted that Drop Dead’s target market was young people.We considered that using a noticeably skinny model with visible hip, rib, collar and thigh bones, who wore heavy make-up and was posed in ways that made her body appear thinner, was likely to impress upon that audience that the images were representative of the people who might wear Drop Dead’s clothing, and as being something to aspire to. Therefore, while we considered the bikini and denim short images might not cause widespread or serious offence, we concluded they were socially irresponsible.”

Our first thoughts upon reading this:

1. Can open, worms EVERYWHERE.

2. We feel sorry for the model: it can’t be nice to cause adverts to be banned simply because YOUR body is deemed unacceptable.

3. As with yesterday’s Marc Jacobs/Dakota Fanning issue, these bans simply serve to draw even more attention to the supposedly “offensive” images. Case in point: we’d never heard of Drop Dead Clothing until this advert was banned…

4. The comments on this post will make for depressing reading, because, for reasons which we’ve never been able to fathom, many people seem to feel they are able to diagnose health conditions by looking at photographs on the internet. This is almost always unfair to the people being “diagnosed”: just because you think someone LOOKS unhealthy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they ARE unhealthy.

As for Drop Dead Clothing, they have, of course, refuted the claims. They say that while they acknowledge the photographs make the model look thinner, she is a UK size 8, which is not an abnormal size. In fact, they think it’s offensive to call a size 8 model offensive. So, in short, everyone’s offended.

Who’s right here? Are you offended by this model’s size, or you offended by people who are offended by this model’s size? Perhaps you’re offended by people who are offended by people who are offended by this model’s size? The main thing to note is that, in today’s society, it’s important that you be offended by SOMETHING. So pick your side now…

(The Fashion Police are going to take a shot every time someone uses the phrase “she needs to eat a sandwich” or a derivative thereof in the comments on this. We predict we’ll be roaring drunk by lunchtime…)

Fashion News, Is it offensive?

Is it offensive? Dakota Fanning’s advert for Marc Jacobs ‘Oh, Lola’ fragrance

An advert featuring Dakota Fanning for Marc Jacobs Oh Lola fragrance has been banned in the UK

Yes, readers, it’s another one of those “Are you offended?” moments. So let’s cut right to the chase, shall we?

Are you offended by this advert for Marc Jacobs’ ‘Oh, Lola!’ fragrance, featuring Dakota Fanning? Because some people are. Four, to be exact. And because of that, the advert has now been banned in the UK. Given that it was first revealed back in June, we’re going to bet Marc Jacobs is absolutely delighted by this turn of events, because let’s face it: if you want an advert to get widespread coverage, the quickest way to do that is to get it banned. There is no better way to ensure that lots of people get to see your advert than by taking steps to try to make sure that no one gets to see it. It’s a funny old world, eh?

Here’s a quick cheat sheet to bring you up to speed with some of the facts of this:

  • Dakota Fanning is 17
  • Marc Jacobs has said that Oh, Lola! was inspired by the Vladimir Nabokov novel ‘Lolita’, and that he chose Dakota for the advert because he felt she could be “a young Lolita”.
  • The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) received four complaints about the advert.
  • In their ruling, they said that although Dakota is 17, she looks younger, and that this, combined with the provocative positioning of the perfume bottle, makes the advert unacceptable.

The ASA’s statement:
“We noted that the model was holding up the perfume bottle which rested in her lap between her legs and we considered that its position was sexually provocative. We understood the model was 17 years old but we considered she looked under the age of 16. We considered that the length of her dress, her leg and position of the perfume bottle drew attention to her sexuality. Because of that, along with her appearance, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.”

What do you think? Is it offensive? Should it have been banned? Tell us!

Fashion News, Is it offensive?

THOSE Topman shirts: offensive or not?

Topman shirt with Nice New Girlfriend What Breed Is She logo

Straw poll, jurors: Topman have withdrawn this shirt following complaints. Is it offensive? Should they have withdrawn it?

What about this one, which has also been withdrawn?

Topman shirt with I'm so sorry but logo...

The objections being voiced about this shirt centre around the idea that the thing being apologised for is domestic violence. We have to admit, that was the impression we got from it too, although we saw this for the first time already knowing that it had been withdrawn following a Twitter storm, and that may well have coloured our views.

Topman’s statement:

“We have received some negative feedback regarding two of our printed T-shirts. Whilst we would like to stress that these T-shirts were meant to be light-hearted and carried no serious meaning we have made the decision to remove these from store and online as soon as possible. We would like to apologise to those who may have been offended by these designs.”

What do you think: do either of these offend you? Should they have been withdrawn?


Fashion News, Fashion Polls & Debates, Is it offensive?

Urban Outfitters ‘Eat Less’ t-shirt: are you offended?

Earlier this month, Urban Outfitters were forced to remove a t-shirt bearing the slogan “Eat Less” from their website (although according to some reports, the shirt is still being sold in-store), after complaints that the message was pro-anorexia, and therefore offensive. We guess the fact that the model wearing it definitely doesn’t need to “eat less” didn’t help matters there…

IS it offensive, though? After all, it seems to be perfectly acceptable these days to tell thin people they “need to eat a sandwich” and obesity is a huge (pardon the pun) issue too, so the counter-argument being made by those who don’t find the shirt in the least bit offensive, is that it’s simply a health message.

The fact that Urban Outfitters are hedging their bets by removing the shirt from the website but still selling it in store suggests they’re not quite sure where they stand on this issue (although, let’s face it, they’re no strangers to controversy either), and to be completely honest, neither are we. So we’re going to ask you to decide the matter for us, readers: is this shirt offensive? Tell us in the comments …