Lena Dunham Responds to Revolve's Sweatshirt Debacle

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Lena Dunham has spoken.

On Wednesday, clothing company Revolve advertised a new sweatshirt on their site designed by LPA that read, “Being fat is not beautiful, it’s an excuse.” 

The clothing item sparked immediate backlash all over social media. Model Tess Holliday tweeted, “LOLLLLL @REVOLVE y’all are a mess” with a screenshot of the sweatshirt. The model wearing the attire is very skinny, which also drew ire. Revolve has since removed the sweatshirt from its site.

Dunham was another outspoken critic, writing a long explanation on Instagram responding to the incident. Dunham’s friend Pia Arrobio established the brand LPA, and Dunham wrote on Instagram that the two of them have been “working on a collaboration” together. According to Dunham, the sweatshirts were meant to “highlight quotes from prominent women who have experienced internet trolling & abuse.”

On this specific sweatshirt, the quote was directed at model Paloma Elsesser on social media by an Internet troll. Dunham explained that proceeds from the clothes were “meant to benefit charities that help young women by empowering them to express themselves through writing and art.”

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Celebrities in Empowering Clothes

The Girls star asserted the regalia was added to the clothing company’s site without her consultation. She criticized the optics of it all. Dunham wrote Revolve “presented the sweatshirts on thin white women, never thinking about the fact that difference and individuality is what gets you punished on the Internet, or that lack of diversity in representation is a huge part of the problem.”

She disassociated herself with the Revolve collaboration, saying she was “deeply disappointed” in the company. Dunham called Elsesser a “personal hero of mine.” The Camping creator added, “Like me, she gave her quote in good faith and shared her vulnerability in order to support arts education and to spread her message of empowerment.”

Dunham replied to many comments on Instagram. “This was a sad outcome for a great project entered into with love,” she wrote.

She added that her “wishes were totally ignored” about the conception of the project.

View this post on Instagram

For months I’ve been working on a collaboration with my friend Pia’s company LPA through parent company @revolve – sweatshirts that highlight quotes from prominent women who have experienced internet trolling & abuse. This is a cause very close to my heart and the proceeds were meant to benefit charities that help young women by empowering them to express themselves through writing and art. Without consulting me or any of the women involved, @revolve presented the sweatshirts on thin white women, never thinking about the fact that difference and individuality is what gets you punished on the Internet, or that lack of diversity in representation is a huge part of the problem (in fact, the problem itself.) As a result, I cannot support this collaboration or lend my name to it in any way. This doesn’t take away from my love or respect for what Pia has done with LPA, but I am deeply disappointed in @revolve’s handling of a sensitive topic and a collaboration rooted in reclaiming the words of internet trolls to celebrate the beauty in diversity and bodies and experiences that aren’t the industry norm. *** I’d like to especially extend my love and support to @palomija, whose quote was the first to be promoted and mangled. She’s a hero of mine. Like me, she gave her quote in good faith and shared her vulnerability in order to support arts education and to spread her message of empowerment, and she wasn’t consulted in the marketing. Not an ounce of negativity should be sent her way. *** My only goal on this planet is to empower women through art and dialogue. I’m grateful to every woman who shared a quote and so disappointed that our words were not honored. As a result, I will be making a donation to the charity of every woman’s choice who was wronged with me and I hope that @revolve will join me with a contribution of their own. *** P.S. This Rubens painting makes me happy because it’s about women joining in love, but he didn’t recognize diversity at all- he just loved curvy butts. Problematic fave.

A post shared by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

View this post on Instagram

For months I’ve been working on a collaboration with my friend Pia’s company LPA through parent company @revolve – sweatshirts that highlight quotes from prominent women who have experienced internet trolling & abuse. This is a cause very close to my heart and the proceeds were meant to benefit charities that help young women by empowering them to express themselves through writing and art. Without consulting me or any of the women involved, @revolve presented the sweatshirts on thin white women, never thinking about the fact that difference and individuality is what gets you punished on the Internet, or that lack of diversity in representation is a huge part of the problem (in fact, the problem itself.) As a result, I cannot support this collaboration or lend my name to it in any way. This doesn’t take away from my love or respect for what Pia has done with LPA, but I am deeply disappointed in @revolve’s handling of a sensitive topic and a collaboration rooted in reclaiming the words of internet trolls to celebrate the beauty in diversity and bodies and experiences that aren’t the industry norm. *** I’d like to especially extend my love and support to @palomija, whose quote was the first to be promoted and mangled. She’s a hero of mine. Like me, she gave her quote in good faith and shared her vulnerability in order to support arts education and to spread her message of empowerment, and she wasn’t consulted in the marketing. Not an ounce of negativity should be sent her way. *** My only goal on this planet is to empower women through art and dialogue. I’m grateful to every woman who shared a quote and so disappointed that our words were not honored. As a result, I will be making a donation to the charity of every woman’s choice who was wronged with me and I hope that @revolve will join me with a contribution of their own. *** P.S. This Rubens painting makes me happy because it’s about women joining in love, but he didn’t recognize diversity at all- he just loved curvy butts. Problematic fave.

A post shared by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

U.K.-based artist Florence Given spoke with LPA via direct message, and the brand called the entire situation a “nightmare.” LPA told Given, “The whole point was the exact opposite of this.”

What many critics called out in great numbers was that the sweatshirts only went up to the size XL. “The designs went up to XL, so the women who this tee is supposed to ’empower’ probably wouldn’t even fit into one. But at least we got the pics taken down…Ugh,” Given wrote on Instagram.

Various Twitter users have called the sweatshirt “misguided and stupid” while another person wrote, “Beauty is not based on size, but ignorance is based on insecurity.” 

Revolve released the following statement to E! News: 

This morning, images of a forth coming LPA collection were prematurely released on Revolve.com. The capsule collection – originally conceived by LPA alongside Lena Dunham, Emily Ratajkowski, Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse and Paloma Elsesser – was set to debut tomorrow as a direct commentary on the modern day “normality” of cyber-bullying and the shared desire to create a community for those most affected by the epidemic.  Proceeds were set to benefit “Girls Write Now”, a charity focused on mentoring underserved young women and helping them find their voices and tell their stories through writing.    

The prematurely released images featured on Revolve.com was not only included without context of the overall campaign but regrettably featured one of the pieces on a model who’s size was not reflective of the piece’s commentary on body positivity.  We at Revolve sincerely apologize to all those involved – particularly Lena, Emily, Cara, Suki and Paloma – our loyal customers, and the community as a whole for this error.  

The collection has been pulled. We are proud to donate $20,000 to “Girls Write Now” in the hopes that those who need it can still benefit from what was to be a meaningful, insightful and impactful collaboration by LPA.

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