For the second time this month a fast-fashion brand has had to remove a graphic t-shirt for offending people. This time, Zara has had to remove a shirt from stores which reads “Are You Gluten Free?” because it mocks people with coeliac disease.
According to Coeliac Australia: “The immune system reacts abnormally to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats), causing small bowel damage. Coeliac disease affects on average approximately 1 in 70 Australians.”
Last week, Forever 21 was in trouble for making a men’s graphic shirt which reads “Don’t say maybe if you want to say no”. The shirt was accused of making light of rape and continuing rape culture- which blames victims for perpetrator’s actions.
Marta Casadesus, from Spain, started a change.org petition which collected over 53,000 signatures. “Coeliac disease is not a fad, nor is it a disease to take it in jest, because of the strictness of the diet that must be followed, gluten-free, and the problems it can cause if it is not done properly.
“The message of this shirt trivialises an important health problem, which affects more people and should be considered whenever the intolerant person – gluten, in this case – is eating out, for example. For this reason it does not seem right that these messages fill the streets, as they have a role contrary to what the awareness and education in this sense intended.
“They can be quite influential and therefore its role could be more educational than is today. I started this petition to ask Zara to apologize to the Spanish coeliac group and commit to not trivialise this disease.”
To Zara’s credit, it removed the shirt from its stores. The chain’s parent company Inditex released a statement on the petition’s page saying: “We sincerely regret that this case can be interpreted as a trivialization of coeliac problem completely opposite intention of Inditex.
“Our apologies, in any case, if anyone interpreted the T-shirt in this way. Inditex is especially sensitive to any matter relating to health and especially with those related to coeliac disease.”