The hashtag #MeToo has been trending on social media over the last few days after actress Alyssa Milano encouraged others to share their stories of sexual harassment and assault. But some retailers are using the viral campaign to sell products, and not everyone agrees with this decision.
One product in particular has sparked a wave of backlash, with many accusing the designer of profiting off others’ pain. Jewelry company Adornia announced its latest product, a lariat necklace spelling out “Me Too,” which retails for $44.
Initially, the brand promised to donate 10 percent of all proceeds to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network. However, it later amended that amount to 100 percent, though it’s unclear whether this was spurred on by harsh criticism of the product or was simply a typo.
Allure reports that Adornia’s PR company followed up their initial email, correcting the error. “Apologies for the typo — 100% of the proceeds from this necklace is being donated to RAINN. Designer Moran Amir was inspired by her own experience as a survivor of adolescent sexual abuse to help women speak out loud.” However, according to Refinery29, Adornia designer Moran Amir made the change in an effort to assuage people’s criticism of her motives. “To eschew any controversy that I was profiting off of other people's pain, I raised the donation to RAINN to 100%,” she said.
But despite the altruistic element, reactions to the necklace were fierce, with people on Twitter calling the product “opportunistic” and “gross.”
“Today in the complete and utter reprehensible cooptation of feminist causes, a brand is selling a "ME TOO" necklace,” one Twitter user wrote.
“It seems really opportunistic and tone-deaf to be commodifying an organic movement for awareness of sexual assault with #MeToo jewelry,” another user wrote. "I really like the idea of wearing our beliefs on our sleeve proverbial or not."
Others argue that there’s nothing wrong with the necklace, and is simply a symbol of female empowerment.
“I think it's cool. Feminists have always used fashion to get the message across, from Suffragette sashes to throwing away bras. Dope,” another user tweeted.
In spite of the harsh feedback to the product, Amir is standing by the necklace, and the company has responded to critics multiple times on Twitter.
“We mean no offense so decided to increase the donation to 100% for this necklace in order to state our mission more clearly,” Adornia wrote.
“I appreciate your feedback. Our intention was to unite women through this expression, not profit off their pain,” the company wrote.
Amir explained to Refinery29 why she created the necklace in the first place, noting how shocked she was by the controversy.
“For me, it was very personal, as I was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. I made [this necklace] for myself and my friends encouraged me to share it…We have seen several orders in the last day, so the necklace resonates with some. There are women who want to share their experience openly and others who do not. This necklace is for the former category. People cope differently with pain, and my intention was not to offend, rather give back and provide vehicle for expression based on recent outpouring on the topic.”