Wal-Mart Eats Humble Pie After Publishing 'Fat Girl' Halloween Costumes
"Dr. Sexy Shots." "Naughty Nurse." "Pirate Wench." "Sultry Officer." No, these aren't juicy porn star stage names. They're plus-sized Wal-Mart Halloween costumes. And not just your garden variety raunchy, sexist costumes du jour. Oh, no. In words of Wal-Mart, they're "Fat Girl Costumes."
Yup, Sam Walton's downhome discount rollback machine actually published a section in its online store this week titled "Fat Girl Costumes." Fat. Girl. Costumes... in case you didn't quite catch that.
The beyond offensive corporate gaffe -- perhaps an inside joke between a couple prankster website developers at the retail giant -- was as unfortunately as real as this Sexy Ebola Containment Suit, which surprisingly isn't yet available at Wal-Mart. (That little infectious "hazmat couture" gem comes to you courtesy of Brands on Sale, friends.)
Wal-Mart thankfully yanked its blatantly fat-shaming ladies' Halloween costume section after Jezebel, tipped off by a reader, outed the eyesore.
Is that sorry in corporate speak? RT @Walmart: Your comments and suggestions are important to us and help make Walmart even better.— Kristyn Washburn (@ItsWithaY) October 21, 2014
Related: The PR Crisis Playbook
And then came the stodgy, automaton-like corporate semi-apology. On Twitter, of course, where Wal-Mart barely tipped its big toe into its mouth when responding to the initial call-out, an admonishing tweet from Twitter user Krysten Washburn. On second thought, semi-apology is too generous for Wal-Mart's trite response tweet to the copywriter: "Your comments and suggestions are important to us and help make Wal-Mart even better. Thank you."
Wal-Mart also ate a slice of humble pie on People Magazine's website. "This never should have been on our site," a company spokesperson said. "It is unacceptable and we apologize." The representative also said Wal-Mart was working to ensure that a goof up like this "would never happen again."
Related: How to Handle a PR Crisis
Thus a somewhat more politically correct, slightly less self-esteem skewering "Women's Plus Size Halloween Costumes" section is now live on Wal-Mart.com. It showcases many of the same smutty getups that the original "Fat" section paraded.
As Washburn put it, "No girl should have to shop under "Fat Girls Costumes." Not at Wal-Mart. Not anywhere. Not ever.
But, if you're a boy and you're in the market for a "Fat Tinkerbell," bulging faux potbelly and all, Wal-Mart still has you covered. Maybe Wal-Mart has a little PR pixie dust left over to tame that beast, too.
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