'Rotten': stores in China face backlash over label for large clothing sizes

Customers ‘shocked’ by descriptions of larger items in RT-Mart, prompting apology for ‘inappropriate’ sign

Shoppers wear face masks in Beijing. RT-Mart has apologised for the signs on clothing marking large sizes as ‘horrible’.
Shoppers wear face masks in Beijing. RT-Mart has apologised for the signs on clothing marking large sizes as ‘horrible’. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP
Shoppers wear face masks in Beijing. RT-Mart has apologised for the signs on clothing marking large sizes as ‘horrible’. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP
in Taipei, and Lillian Yang

Last modified on Fri 13 Nov 2020 21.55 EST

A major retailer in China has been forced to apologise after one of its stores classified small clothing sizes as “beautiful” and large sizes as “rotten”.

The signs inside the RT-Mart superstore depicted a size chart with small to medium sizes described as “slim” and “beautiful”, with larger sizes as “rotten” and “horrible”.

It was spotted by a customer who photographed and shared them to social media, adding the comment: “I was shocked when I saw this size chart at a RT-Mart today. Am I completely rotten?” The post quickly went viral, drawing accusations of fat shaming women and discrimination.

“It’s not only disrespecting women but also extremely vulgar,” said one.

RT-Mart is headquartered in Taiwan and has more than 400 stores in mainland China. Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holdings, China’s e-commerce giant is a major shareholder in RT-Mart’s parent company.

One commenter joked that Ma, who was recently questioned by the Chinese regulators ahead of a planned – but since delayed - float of his company, Ant Group, would now face interrogation by the state-run Women’s Federation.

RT-Mart issued an apology for the “inappropriate” sign, claiming internal inquiries determined it was an isolated incident at one store. It said the signs had been removed and it would not happen again.

“We sincerely apologise to the public and accept the public’s criticism,” the statement from RT-Mart said. “Thank you very much for your understanding and support of RT-Mart!

There was little forgiveness among netizens, with numerous pledges to boycott the store and skepticism that it was one rogue outlet displaying the signage.

“Businesses that can do such things are rotten to their bones,” said one.

“I just want to know, if this happened in Europe or America, would the company be punished financially,” said another.