Oh boy. By this point, there’s no doubt you’ve heard about the controversy over Marek+Richard’s “No Fats No Fems” tee. The shirt has sparked the ire of many gay social media users after a photo of the tee spread like wildfire yesterday. As we all know, the phrase “no fats no fems” is commonly used on gay dating apps to share a user’s physical preferences in their potential partner. It’s also widely regarded as a form of open discrimination within the community along with “preferences” like no Blacks and no Asians.
Marek+Richard has billed this shirt as satire. In their own eloquent words: “Don’t worry boo we luv our fems/curvy gurlz and also satire for that matter. 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.”
Seems to me that the word ‘satire’ is being used as a shield of protection from all the hate the brand knew it would face. If this shirt was truly satirical, it wouldn’t be so brash or obvious. The use of satire indicates a superior level of intelligence and understanding of challenging literary concepts like irony. But judging by many of the other offerings on Marek+Richard’s site (i.e. the Let’s Fuck Cropped Tank, Diet Cock Cropped Tank, and Hole Lotta Lovin Low Armhole Tank), satire isn’t exactly their specialty.
"Seems to me that the word ‘satire’ is being used as a shield of protection from all the hate the brand knew it would face."
Satire is a literary, and often comedic, tool used to expose ignorance and stupidity. Perhaps on its own and attached to a more fleshed out backstory, the No Fats No Fems tee could actually be viewed as satirical. Or even better, if a fat or fem guy was wearing it in the product shot, it would actually be satirical. But slung over the body of the ‘gay hot’ stereotype and posted alongside the aforementioned shirts, it doesn’t stick out as a product with a meaningful message. It seems more like an invitation to wear your ignorance across your torso. It’s making a mockery of two phrases that have caused a lot of gay men pain. It seems the designers of this tee could use an extensive course in satire education which mainly consists of articles from The Onion.
If anything, the real satire is that this brand actually expects people to take it seriously.
Like the rest of you, I’d never heard of Marek+Richard prior to the social media backlash. As someone over 30 who routinely writes about Saint Laurent and Vetements, I don’t consider vinyl printed t-shirts a source of viable fashion. For obvious reasons, this brand has existed outside of my realm of sartorial awareness. But all fashion snobbery aside, Marek+Richard seem to have built a brand based entirely on clothing you can only wear to a PRIDE celebration. If you’re 25 or younger. They’ve piled every possible gay stereotype onto a series of crop tops and tanks, and they’re calling themselves an American made fashion brand. If I see one more screen printed t-shirt brand refer to itself as a fashion label…
As Marek+Richard have so subtly pointed out on Twitter, the shirt is now sold out. While that’s great for them, I highly doubt any of the buyers intend to use this shirt in an ironic way. This is only further perpetuating a nasty truth about our community, and this brand is capitalizing on it instead of using its influence to break it down.
"As someone over 30 who routinely writes about Saint Laurent and Vetements, I don’t consider vinyl printed t-shirts a source of viable fashion."
Luckily, there is some positive change happening elsewhere. RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 favorite Kim Chi is releasing a “Yas Fats Yas Fems Yas Azns” tee next month to raise money for The Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Proud2Share anti-poverty campaign, and the Shape Up America organization. First-time indie filmmaker Jamal Lewis raised over $17,000 on Indiegogo to shoot his upcoming documentary, “No Fats, No Femmes”. The film vows to dive deep into the psychology behind the painful phrase and the continued discriminatory acts within the LGBT community.
Nice try Marek+Richard, but no brand that sells briefs with BUSSY splashed across the back can be taken seriously when it comes to literary technique. Your shirt simply shouldn’t exist, and neither should your half-assed defense of it. Here’s hoping there are enough gays out there with fully developed fashion sense that can be out and proud in good taste.