By Julie Pennell, TODAY
A collection of plates intended as a humorous way to help people dining at home with portion control has caused a major backlash online.
On Sunday, podcast host Alie Ward tweeted out a picture of the dinner set (which was being sold at a Macy’s department store) to her 37,000 followers with the caption, “How can I get these plates from @Macys banned in all 50 states.”
— Alie Ward (@alieward) July 21, 2019
In the photo, a large dinner plate features three painted concentric circles outlining different sizes with the words “skinny jeans,” “favorite jeans” and “mom jeans” written out, suggesting which item of clothing you’d be able to fit into based on how much food you put on the plate.
Displayed next to it is a smaller appetizer plate which features two circles — labeled “food coma” and “foodie.”
The tweet quickly went viral with many agreeing with Ward that the plates were inappropriate and sent the wrong message to some who may be struggling.
“This is a toxic message, promoting even greater women beauty standards and dangerous health habits,” one tweeter replied.
Another wrote, “The issue is that it’s perpetuating the messages that a) you’re only attractive if you can wear skinny jeans and b) the only way you can wear skinny jeans is to eat tiny amounts. Neither message is true and just promotes poor body image and eating disorders.”
These labeled plates are AWFUL and I am glad Macy’s has agreed to remove them. This fuels eating disorders.
— Susan Feldkamp (@SusanFeldkamp) July 22, 2019
Macy’s took swift action and replied to the original tweet with news that they would be removing the plates, which were being sold at STORY, a concept shop inside New York City’s flagship Macy’s that sells items made by smaller businesses and brands.
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
In a statement emailed to TODAY Food, a Macy’s spokesperson said: “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.”
After the backlash ensued, however, many people who saw humor in the plates were upset with the store’s decision.
“I LOVE those plates, where can I buy a set before you remove them,” one person wrote. “Don’t pay attention to people with no sense of humor!!!”
The plates were originally designed by a company called Pourtions, which was founded by Dan and Mary Cassidy. “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,” the founders said in a statement provided to TODAY.
Pourtions’ dishes and glasses, which are made in the U.S., feature numerous items that are intended to help diners stick within adequate portion guidelines. Says their website, “From the corner donut cart to Big Gulps to all you can eat and drink buffets, portions have gone through the roof. This initial inspiration led us to design a conceptual line of tableware that deftly mixes social awareness with a humorous nudge in the right direction.”
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You may have noticed that the artist formerly known as Weight Watchers has been rebranded as @ww —expanding beyond their core focus of dieting and weight loss to take a more holistic approach as a personal wellness company. @pourtionsjustright would love to be part of the effort, as we look to bring our mischievous message of mindful moderation to the masses! @oprah , perhaps we can discuss it over a perfect 6 oz. pour of a crispy pinot grigio? 😉 . . . #wwfreestyle #ww #oprahwinfrey #portioncontrol #pourtionsjustright #tuesdaymotivation #momjeans
“Pourtions is intended to support healthy eating and drinking,” they continued. “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.”
It looks like many fans of the plates agree that it’s possible to approach healthful eating with a tongue-in-cheek approach.
Though no longer available at Macy’s, the plates are still for sale on Pourtions’ website, as well as other select retailers.
The Cassidys added, “We ourselves use our glasses and plates every day to help us take our own advice. We know this is serious business. We also believe a touch of humor can, for some, be just the right touch.”