A couple's baby-clothing business is facing criticism from a magazine editor and some Facebook users for selling a onesie with the words "I Hate My Thighs" emblazoned on the front.
As of Monday, the controversial garment no longer appears on the Wry Baby website, which features similar one-piece "Snapsuits" decorated with phrases such as "Born To Fight Zombies,""Crying Gets You Things" and "Bringing Booty Back."
But a senior editor at Ms. magazine, Michele Kort, told TODAY.com Monday that she remains disappointed the article of clothing was offered in the first place. "Our takeaway is just to get people to think about the kinds of things that we say that communicate something [negative], mostly to girls and women," she said. "Even though it was said as a joke ... it isn't a joke, in terms of the reality of girls' lives, and how they're fat-shamed from a very young age."
But according to Wry Baby's Facebook page, which had more than 2,300 Likes as of Monday, everything the company does is meant in fun. "What we’re trying to do is make the entire parenting experience as fun as humanly possible," reads a quote attributed to Wry Baby co-owner Kelly Sopp. "We equate having kids with having a good time. Why shouldn’t it be?"
On March 10, Kort posted a Ms. magazine blog entry called "Baby Fat-Shaming," in which she objected to the message printed on one of Wry Baby's onesies. "Yes, we know—it’s meant to be funny," she wrote. "After all, the company that sells this onesie with the saying 'I Hate My Thighs' is named Wry Baby. And we feminists do have a sense of humor. But really, there’s something icky about projecting fat awareness on babies."
Acknowledging that the clothing company considers it "a tiny statement regarding self-image," Kort still wasn't sold on the concept. "Actually, it’s a pretty large statement for a 10-pounder to be making—a harbinger of things to come later in a child's life, especially if that child is a girl."
Kort opened the discussion to readers in the blog's comments section — where Wry Baby responded with multiple posts. "We couldn’t agree more about body image," reads a March 12 comment attributed to the clothing company. "That’s why we made an ironic joke about it. Obviously no baby would or should hate their thighs! ... But we’re glad you’re able to froth up your readers this week and shine a light on what is apparently a vital mission of MS. Magazine – reviewing baby clothes."
Wry Baby's other co-owner, Dave Sopp, confirmed via email that his company posted those comments beneath Kort's blog post, telling TODAY.com, "We don't really have anything to add beyond what we've already responded to them with."
In the same March 12 blog comment on the magazine's blog, Wry Baby announced intentions to pit the "I Hate My Thighs" garment against a previously retired "Love Me For My Leg Rolls" item to see if "sweetness or irony wins," with the better-selling version remaining for sale, and proceeds from the showdown benefiting the Ms. Foundation for Women.
Others sided with the company, with one defender writing, "I took it as having the exact opposite meaning as apparently all of these posters did. To me, it is making fun of peoples' obsession with how fat their thighs are."
In a follow-up comment on the Ms. blog, Kort requested Wry Baby's proceeds be donated to the magazine rather than the Ms. Foundation for Women, which no longer is affiliated with the publication. "[Sorry] that we don’t see much difference between I Hate My Thighs and Love Me For My Leg Rolls; the subtext of the latter is that someone would NOT be loved for her leg rolls," she added. "But of course we’re making too much of this, right?"
The back-and-forth continued in the comments section Monday, with Wry Baby reporting that sales of the "Love Me For My Leg Rolls" version outsold the "I Hate My Thighs" version by nearly three to one. "Being true to our word, we are keeping the positive version and jettisoning the ironic ['I Hate My Thighs'] one," the post reads. "This morning, we were thrilled to donate 100% of the proceeds from both styles to the Ms. Foundation for Women (not to your magazine as you bizarrely requested). ... Thanks again for helping us to engage with your base over the past few days. But if you’ll excuse us, we need to get back to making fun, new things for fun, new people."
As of early Monday night, Kort had the last word in the comments section, where she questioned the clothing company's claim that her blog's readers were among the customers to purchase either Wry Baby design, and clarified that the magazine is, itself, a nonprofit venture affiliated with the Feminist Majority Foundation, hence her request to donate Wry Baby's proceeds to her publication.
"We did not 'challenge' you to come up with a more positive alternative," she wrote. "And we certainly do not agree that 'Love Me For My Leg Rolls' IS a positive alternative."
In her phone conversation with TODAY.com, Kort said she hopes Wry Baby focuses less on what she called a "marketing ploy" and more about the situation's larger impact on body image.
"Think about your daughters," Kort added, "and what message that you want to convey to them."
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