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An Open Letter to Lilly Pulitzer

Dear Lilly Pulitzer, 

As I type this I am wearing one of your clothing items - the Braylen in Southern Charm from spring 2014 to be exact - but apparently that is offensive to you, or at least to one of your employees. When I got dressed this morning I selected this top mostly because it was clean and I was in a rush but also because it was my favorite top. It's comfortable, I consider it flattering and the print makes me happy. But instead of spending $88 on a cotton top I am apparently not worthy of I should just kill myself. 

I am of course referring to the picture in a recent article on the company's workplace: 

Oh yeah, I should probably mention that I wear a size 18, also known as being "fat, white, and hideous" in your office. Ugh, how dare I wear your clothes! 

I am not a life long customer. For some reason your clothes weren't too much of a "thing" at my small, private southern college but it is in my hometown. For years I drooled over the pretty designs but worried myself with things like groceries, gas and a home over $198 dresses. But then you released a limited edition scarf for the Junior League and I splurged and bought it, for $118. It was that scarf that made me fall in love, so soft, so beautiful, so colorful and so many compliments it received. I wanted to spend everyday feeling the way I felt in that scarf. I purchased a few items from the online sale and loved them just as much. Then, things changed - my mom died. I spent weeks in sadness hiding from the world but I soon realized that wasn't the way my mom would want me to live, she above all else wanted her children to be happy, and so it seemed fitting that I use the money she left me to buy some of the things that made me feel so happy. Soon I had a new job, more income and a closet filled to the brim with Lilly. I felt a rush of excitement when a new package arrived and picking out my outfit each day was a fun activity. 

I wore Lilly to work

To have fun 

For celebrations 

And my favorite, for "theme dressing" such as "Get Nauti" for boating or "Crown Jewels" for a royal exhibit. 

I even wore a "holy grail" dress in "You Gotta Regatta" for the warehouse sale, a sale in which I drove 16 hours to participate in. 

I share these pictures to not only show my love of the brand but because quite frankly I am not ashamed of how I look in anyone of them. Could I use a little less carbs and a little more treadmill in my life? Sure, but overall I lead a life of happiness, kindness towards others, and love and maybe I live that life a little larger than the world might like but it's a life I'm pretty darn happy with. 

So, needless to say you can imagine my shock when news spread of the inside look of your offices. As an employer I know that you cannot control the personal opinions of each of your employees but you can control how they are expressed in the workplace. Am I really to believe the same people clever enough to come up with witty print names "pirates bootyneire" or "shake your tailfeather" didn't do a sweep of the office to make sure no secret or inappropriate information was on display? Is this fat shaming mindset so prevalent in your office that a drawing of an overweight woman captioned "you should probably just kill yourself" doesn't stand out???? 

And what's your excuse, that employees are allowed to decorate their work space? If your employees had pictures of burning crosses with their KKK buddies would that be allowed in their workspace too? Guess what Lilly Pulitzer, this may be one employee's personal drawing but by allowing it in your office it doesn't just represent that employee, it represents you. 

A lot of people might expect me to see this and vow to never wear Lilly again. But when I look in my closet I don't just see pretty clothes, I see happy memories in those clothes and I'm not going to let one sad girl with major self esteem issues take that from me. Truthfully, I feel sad for the girl that posted this by her desk, I have more confidence in my size 18 body than she will ever have in her size 2. To say such hateful things to oneself, I just can't even imagine. 

But Lilly Pulitzer, with your increasingly shorter hemlines and smaller measurements I have been buying less of your stuff anyway, and now I know why. So I'll keep the clothes I already have and their happy memories and in the meantime, perhaps you can also focus a little less on carbs and a little more of the happiness your brand is supposed to be about. 


  1. Saw this posted on FB; great piece. I was never a huge Lilly fan, even though I work for a southern luxury retailer that sells her stuff by the boatload. I was psyched when I saw LP was one of the few designers to create a plus line for their Target collab, but this is disheartening. I am NOT allowed to post whatever I want in my work area because, like you said, it's a reflection on the company. This very poorly reflects on a company that is already assumed to cater to the wealthy, thin, white, and young. It is unfortunate that the environment at LP sees no issues with this.

    Sidenote, in your "For celebrations" picture--I totally have a tote with that same print. It's the one LP piece I own and I love that print! :)

  2. Bravo!! Very well written and what everyone would like to say after seeing that awful photo of fat shamming. I always viewed being a "lilly lover" as being a sophisticated lady who is kind to everyone...I am starting to feel like that is just what I wanted to think, not what it is.


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