Style

Gap tweet featuring skinny model sparks Internet uproar

Aug. 6, 2014 at 4:31 PM ET

The Internet continues to weigh in on a controversial Aug. 4 tweet by the clothing company Gap.

On Monday, the retailer took to Twitter to promote a plaid shirtdress that a skinny model wears in an accompanying photo. Encouraging users to “Dress up your days in pastel plaid,” Gap sparked reactions that ranged from enraged to sympathetic.

Some worried the photo promoted an unrealistic physical standard. “Seriously, @Gap? In what world do people look like this?” tweeted @AgnesLoo. “Perhaps you could select models who represent regular gals & not a skeletor ghost.”

Twitter user @ChillyKBlige stated that the model looked “like a pencil in plaid,” and multiple accounts, including @upendi5 and @ExcitingJustice, claimed the model needed a “cheeseburger.”

Other users came to the model’s defense, including music-video director Daniel Ralston, who said people have shouted “eat a sandwich” at his wife.

“(They) say this to my wife all the time,” he tweeted, “and it’s just as hurtful as telling a fat person to diet.”

Video: A photo of a model tweeted by clothing retailer The Gap has spurred criticism from some that she is too thin. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

In a statement to TODAY, Gap spokesperson Edie Kissko said, "Our intentions have always been to celebrate diversity in our marketing and champion people for who they are. Upon reflection, we understand the sensitivity surround this photograph. Customer feedback is important to us and we think this is a valuable conversation to learn from."

The retailer’s website shows a different model in the same dress, “wearing a regular U.S. size (small).” According to the “fit and sizing” section of that page, that model is 5-foot-10 with a 25-inch waist and 35-inch hips.

In a 2012 piece for TODAY.com, psychiatrist and columnist Dr. Gail Saltz asked why “even the kind-hearted among us feel like it’s OK to trash someone for being ‘too skinny.’”

“In our culture, calling someone ‘too skinny’ is almost like calling someone ‘too pretty’ — it can seem like a twisted compliment,” she wrote. “People may believe that a woman is skinny because she worked hard to get that way — as opposed to a woman who is heavier, who might be perceived as someone who would love to weigh less, but hasn't been as successful at dieting. So, we feel for the overweight woman, but not for the overly thin one.”

Follow TODAY.com writer Chris Serico on Twitter.

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