Alie Ward, a science reporter and podcast host based in Los Angeles, was walking by the flagship Macy’s store on 34th Street in New York City when something caught her eye: plates in a display window.
Ward was taken aback by what she saw as body-shaming messaging, especially for people who struggle with their weight or have eating disorders. So she sent a tweet.
“It’s such a gross sentiment and also very out of touch with what’s fashionable right now,” she said.
Four hours later, Macy’s apologized for having “missed the mark” and said it would remove the plates, which were available only at the New York City location.
“We apologize to our customers for missing the mark on this product. After reviewing the complaint, we quickly removed the plates, which were only in our STORY at Macy’s location in Herald Square.”
Ward said she was surprised by Macy’s response.
“Companies, people, everyone screws up,” she said. “It’s not about being perfect or tiptoeing, but it’s just about listening when someone says, ‘yeah, no.’”
The plates are part of a collection offered through Macy’s brick-and-mortar STORY exhibit, which carries products from mostly small businesses at 36 stores in 15 states, according to a news release.
The original plates are from online retailer Pourtions, run by couple Dan and Mary Cassidy, which offers dinnerware and glassware all labeled with captioned portions. The “mom jeans” plates are advertised on the brand’s website for $9.50 each.
The product description reads, “There’s nothing like broken-in, faded, ripped-in-the-right-place jeans. They look great, and more importantly, they fit great. So, keep your eye on the middle circle and you’ll always be in fashion.”
The response to the plates and their removal has been mixed. Some on Twitter criticized the retailer for giving in so quickly and being overly sensitive. “Wow ... nothing like allowing the public to weigh in with their dollars and vote for themselves, Macy’s. You guys are complete cowards,” a Twitter user using the handle Jellenne posted.
Others, like actress and body positivity activist Jameela Jamil, supported Ward’s sentiment. “The Good Place” star retweeted Ward and added her own profane commentary.
Pourtions president Mary Cassidy said in an email statement that the brand’s intent is to support healthy eating and drinking.
“As the creators of Pourtions, we feel badly if what was meant to be a lighthearted take on the important issue of portion control was hurtful to anyone,” Cassidy said. “Everyone who has appreciated Pourtions knows that it can be tough sometimes to be as mindful and moderate in our eating and drinking as we’d like, but that a gentle reminder can make a difference. That was all we ever meant to encourage.”
The brand provides the following mission statement on its website:
“Walk down any street today and one thing becomes immediately clear: we have really let ourselves go. Waistlines are exploding like the national debt. Arteries are jammed like Grand Central Station at rush hour. And there are plenty of helpings of blame to go around — fast food, slow metabolism, excessive elbow-bending. POURTIONS was created to help you take back the power and counter this unhealthy trend.”