The American designers behind a “no fats no fems” t-shirt have defended their controversial message after a backlash on social media.
Marek+Richard, which is known for its provocative t-shirts, came under fire for the black tank top. It boldly features the statement, often included on gay dating profiles, through which men indicate that they are not interested in “fat” and “feminine” partners.
The vest is sold alongside a description that reads: “This tank is perfect for the kidz who’d like to add a lil irony to their wardrobe and aren’t afraid to make a statement. Either way you’re bound to attract attention and start conversations boo :).”
The t-shirt, however, was slated on social media as being offensive, promoting body-shaming and perpetuating stereotypes about gay men.
“Shoutouts to @Marek_Richard for creating this self-loathing shirt for discriminating basic-ass shitheads,” tweeted one person, while another said: “Congrats @Marek_Richard for capturing 75% of what’s wrong in the #gay community #LGBT #Grindr #Gayboys #Scruff”.
Other comments included: “The term “no fats no fems” offends me very much because it others and negates the self worth and identity of effeminate and hefty gay guys”, and “@Marek_Richard all this shaming mindset does is continue homophobia, only this time amongst ourselves”.
Neil Marek and Robbie Richard, who founded the company, were unrepentant in the face of the mounting criticism and anger.
They insisted that the t-shirt was meant to be ironic and satirical. “Glad to see people talkin bout important issues. We luv to stir the pot and shine light on shit goin down in the community #NoFatsNoFems,” the duo tweeted.
“Messages can be sent in variety of ways. Satire is one of our favs”, they said, adding on Facebook: “Props to those who understand the irony of the message.”
The designers also revealed in a somewhat defensive tweet that the vests had become a hit. “It’s sold out. Say what u will.”
Mathew Rodriguez wrote on Mic that the vest only adds to the existing pressure on gay men to conform to often unrealistic and exclusionary ideals.
“There is no doubt the shirt is discriminatory — its intention is to separate those you want to sleep with (thin, masculine) with those you don’t (fat, feminine),” he said.
“And while having preferences against fat or feminine men may seem innocuous enough, putting it on a shirt or even on an app profile speaks to a larger truth about the gay community: We’re sexist, racist and discriminatory AF.”