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Flaws Worth Fighting For?

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Popular high street store Topshop has sparked outrage in the media this month with their

controversial range of scar tattoos. But, do they celebrate flaws or trivialise mental illness?

Earlier this month, high street giant Topshop released a new range of ‘self-love’

accessories, controversially including a line of golden, scar-like temporary tattoos. The

collection was created and designed in collaboration with Lucie Davis, a student of Central

Saint Martin’s Art School, London. Davis was the winner of a competition for second year

students of the school, in which they were asked to design a collection based on the words

‘women and power’. In a statement promoting the range of designs Topshop said “Lucie’s

designs aim to leave a lasting impression by ultimately encouraging a greater appreciation

and ownership of ourselves; highlighting imperfections and celebrating adversity”.

Despite the company’s good intentions, they have been under fire from a large

number of customers who view the range as distasteful and demeaning to mental illness. The tagline of the collection, ‘flaws worth fighting over’, aimed to promote body confidence and

encourage women to accept and love their imperfections, with less taboo designs such as

freckles and moles also included in the range. However, the scar design proved one step too

far for some.

Customers immediately associated the designs with scars left from self-harm,

claiming that the store was promoting these scars as beautiful and fashionable. A strong

attitude that Topshop was trivialising mental illness quickly circulated social media.

Facebook and Twitter users were ‘horrified’ at the collection, one tweet read “@topshop As a

past self-harmer, I find you ‘scar tattoos’ offensive, triggering and insensitive. Beyond

disgusted as a longtime customer. A Change.org petition was started against the

company, declaring that “Topshop should not be normalising self-harm. Or presenting it as a

fashion trend.”

Not all opinions in the press were negative though. There has been some suggestion in

the media that these tattoos could help to combat self-harm, in that the user would be able to

feel a sensation on the skin on there would be a visible but not harmful mark left on the body.

Cognitive behavioural therapist, Marie Taylor commented that “temporary tattoos of this kind

could have value as a recovery strategy”.

There have also been individuals who do not think the tattoos are related to self-harm

at all. Some customers were appreciative of the range and believe that this type of accessory

can help women to embrace their imperfections and insecurities by adorning them. On

Facebook Dana Batts commented that “gold scar tattoos can have a positive meaning for

those who have a scar or birthmark” and that these tattoos can help people to celebrate their

imperfections as “unique and normal”.

The reaction to this daring move from Topshop was huge and two sided, but with an

overwhelming negative response to the collection, the company made the decision to remove

all of the designs from their stores and their website. The range of tattoos is no longer

available and customers are grateful that their opinions have been heard.

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About Author

Olivia Wilcock

Lifestyle Editor 2015

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