JCPenney stirred up a bit of controversy this week when a photo of a Worthington Side Slit Pencil Skirt was dubbed the “period skirt” after its floral design was interpreted as a menstrual stain. The Twitterverse became divided momentary as users weighed in on the remarkable viral photo. The $23.99 skirt sells on the company’s website and boasts the following ad copy: “Our side slit pencil skirt lets you set the day’s agenda whether you are in the office or at another important function.”
The skirt has a magenta flower design that is placed on white fabric in a way that some people have said looks like a menstrual flow, Forbes reports. One user on Twitter asked the retailer: “Sooooo…is this dress designed to hide a period stain?! @jcpenney”
Another user questioned whether or not JCPenney is “trying to be modern” with the period skirt.
“Really could’ve picked a better place for that ‘flower’ design…” another poster captioned the photo on Twitter.
An image of the dress can be seen in the following tweet:
— Digiday (@Digiday) April 7, 2016
The company is standing behind the skirt, posting the following clever response to people losing their cool over the skirt: “We think it’s a fab skirt for any time of the month. Period.”
We think it’s a fab skirt for any time of the month. Period. https://t.co/rCAjNiEw5Z https://t.co/0Zdzo1aWbs
— JCPenney (@jcpenney) April 7, 2016
Fortune reached out for further comment, but JCPenney issued only this brief response: “The Company is going to refrain from providing additional comment beyond the response we issued yesterday on Twitter @jcpenney. Thanks for your interest.”
As the photo of the so-called “period skirt” was shared around the Internet, it caused an uproar among customers who questioned both the color and placement of the skirt’s flower. To be fair, a photo of the skirt on the company’s website shows that the flower is further off to the skirt’s side than initially revealed in the catalog image.
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The public reaction to the period skirt brings to light, once again, how for many, a woman’s monthly cycle is unnatural and disgusting. The skirt’s design forces us to get real close to the topic and look at it a whole new way.
Menstrual Designer Jen Lewis has been one of the few vocal proponents of exploring “the aesthetic merits of a usually reviled and quickly discarded material.” Lewis highlights the unexpected beauty of menstrual blood using macrophotography, and one has to wonder if the designer of the period skirt took a similar but more subtle approach. The online criticism the garment has received reflects the same reaction Lewis experiences about her work, which actually requires the use of her own menstrual blood.
“The catalyst for the creation of ‘Beauty in Blood’ was actually when I switched from tampons and pads to a menstrual cup at the recommendation of my physician,” Lewis explained in an email to The Huffington Post. “The cup is a much more ‘hands-on’ approach to menstruation management so my relationship with my body began changing immediately following the first use. One day, when I had some blood on my fingers after emptying my cup, I started to wonder about why society framed up menstruation as something disgusting.”
JCPenney has a history of creating products with questionable likeness, such as a tea kettle that quickly sold out in 2013 after customers noted its resemblance to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
Critics are calling for JCPenney to cease selling the period skirt, but for now, it remains on the website, and currently retailing for 50 percent off the original price.
What are your thoughts about the uproar?
Should JCPenney stop selling the “period skirt”?
[Image courtesy Ken Wolter/ShutterStock]