Amanda Hanson said she was outraged when she discovered an advertisement on Walmart Canada’s website that described plus-sized women as “fat.”
The third-party ad, which has since been taken down, was titled “elegant floral print fat women swimsuit bellyband style beach wear.” It went on to describe the item as the “best choice for fat girls to spend hot summer.”
Hanson, a personal stylist based in Saint John, N.B., said it’s possible the third-party retailer is from another country and the first language is not English — but she said that’s no excuse.
“It is clear there was obviously a translation error but it still should have been caught before it was let go,” she said.
Hanson said other women she’s spoken to and heard from through social media are shocked by the words used to describe the swimsuit. She described the response as “a lot of anger and swearing.”
Seriously <a href=”https://twitter.com/Walmart?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Walmart</a> Description:<br>Suitable for beach, seaside, hot spring, etc.Made of high-class material, soft and skin-friendly. Best choice for fat girls to spend hot Summer. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/notawalmartshopper?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#notawalmartshopper</a> any more <a href=”https://t.co/tPOoev9XUi”>https://t.co/tPOoev9XUi</a>
Hanson posted about the ad on her company’s Facebook page and is calling for the company to take ownership of the error.
Walmart Canada did apologize for the error. In an email, the company said the description of the swimsuit doesn’t reflect the company’s values.
“This was a translation error on the part of the third-party seller,” the email said.
“We have removed the product from Walmart.ca and sincerely apologize for any unintended offence this has caused our customers.”
The product was online sold online and not in stores.
Ad perceived as discriminatory
Despite the outrage, some women do embrace the word “fat” to dispel the stigma around weight, Hanson said.
“The word fat is now in the media and women’s minds that fat is bad, or unhealthy, or unworthy,” she said.
Hanson said plus-sized women who have worked hard to embrace their bodies are again being forced to see the word fat in a negative way.
Leanne Cochrane, a self-identified plus-sized woman, said that the advertisement was discriminatory. She said she was appalled when she saw it.
She had many questions about how the advertisement made it to the website and said she will boycott the company indefinitely.
“I’m heading to Mexico in a month for two weeks and I’m in the process of looking for bathing suits and Walmart can rest assured that I won’t be buying them there,” she said.
Cochrane disagreed that the problem was a translation error and said she’d never encountered a similar error in her other experiences shopping online.
“Someone somewhere dropped the ball on this,” she said.
– With files from Maritime Noon and Jordan Gill