What Everyone Is Failing To Notice In The Lilly Pulitzer Scandal
Lilly Pulitzer can't seem to stay out of trouble.
A few months ago, Lilly Pulitzer made headlines when the brand rolled out its Target collection.
Despite being immensely popular, larger sizes of this clothing line were only available online, sparking accusations that both the store and the brand were treating their plus-size consumers like "second-class customers."
Once again, Lilly Pulitzer's name has been splashed throughout the news, as the brand was linked to fat-shaming for the second time in a few short months.
On Tuesday, New York Magazine's The Cut published a slideshow intended as a photo tour of the company's headquarters.
A particular photo in the slideshow quickly went viral because it depicted two offensive and upsetting cartoonish drawings. Both sketches are of seemingly overweight women.
One troublesome caption reads,
"Just another day of fat, white, and hideous. You should probably just kill yourself." The other drawing almost seems like a warning; it is punctuated with the words, "Put it down, carb face." The Cut later added a caption to the original photo that explains, "This image shows the personal illustrations of an employee not pictured in this story.”
Jane Schoenborn, a spokeswoman for Lilly Pulitzer, later confirmed in a statement for Bloomberg,
"These illustrations were the work of one individual and were posted in her personal work area."
This is all we know so far about the scandal, but the Internet is up in arms, as expected.
Despite the fact that these drawings are located in one person's work area, many people are quick to link the entire brand with these ideas.
Of course, it was a huge oversight on the company's part to even allow those drawings to be left up during a site visit from such a major publication.
It can also be argued it's an oversight for those drawings to be allowed in the workplace, period.
For a company primarily female-dominated, as spokesperson Schoenborn put it, it seems counterintuitive to have such hateful messages displayed in the workplace at all, regardless of the fact that it was the personal choice of one individual employee.
With all of this said, there's one thing we've neglected to pause and think about.
Yes, it makes us angry to think about women in the Lilly Pulitzer headquarters sitting around, fat-shaming others.
Understandably, it would make us want to boycott the brand and think twice before we purchase any of its bright, floral dresses in the future.
But, what if that's not the case at all? What if these messages aren't being sent to all women, but one woman, in particular?
Why might this employee have these drawings hanging in her work area? To whom are they directed?
When we stop and think about these questions, an even sadder possibility arises: What if this employee is directing these drawings and phrases at herself?
How many women have ever slapped a self-degrading Post-It to the fridge in hopes it would steer them away from the ice cream?
How many women have hung a picture of a bikini-clad Victoria's Secret angel in their kitchen as "motivation" to keep up their summer diets?
I'm not saying these behaviors are entirely healthy, but they are pretty damn normal.
What's more is this type of behavior is not directed at women in general. Rather, it is directed inward, and is a sign of self-consciousness.
Any woman who has ever felt insecure about her body will recognize the emotions that go along with self-hatred.
Anyone who has ever stepped into a dressing room and hated what she saw in the mirror can recognize the pure anxiety that goes along with being uncomfortable in your own skin.
For some women, every day is a battle against food.
Isn't it possible these drawings are nothing more than a manifestation of those feelings?
Yes, we can all agree there was a misstep somewhere at the Lilly Pulitzer headquarters.
It was a bad PR move to allow those drawings to be photographed by The Cut, and it was an even worse move to let those images represent the company.
But, before we all jump into a virtual witch-hunt against Lilly Pulitzer, let's revisit the facts; let's entertain all possibilities, and let's acknowledge what we don't know.
Most importantly, let's not crucify one woman for what might simply be her own insecurities. We're all better than that.