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Fashion controversy: why Zara pulled this 'Are You Gluten Free?' tee

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Yet another misguided T-shirt slogan has caused controversy this week, as Zara has come under fire for glamourising gluten-free diets after a top baring the slogan 'Are You Gluten Free?' hit shelves.

While gluten-free has become a familiar fixture in lists of celebrity favourite and fad diets in the past few years, it's far from a flash in the pan or lifestyle choice for those with Coeliac disease.

The shirt left sufferers of the autoimmune disease enraged by the trivial treatment of their dietary requirement. Coeliac sufferer Marta Casadesús from the Spanish city of Terrassa started a Change.org petition in an attempt to have the T-shirt banned. 

Her page titled “We do not want shirts with offensive messages for people with Coeliac disease," received over 50,000 signatures in a week.

One supporter commented: “Coeliac disease is not a fashion statement, nor should you make fun of the disease because of the strictness of the gluten-free diet and the problems that can arise if you do not follow it correctly.”

Fortunately, the signatures were enough to trigger a response from the brand, who had the tees removed from sale and issued an apology.

Inditex, who own Zara, released the following statement: “The T-shirt mentioned in this petition was pulled from our online store a few weeks ago now and we are currently confirming that it is not for sale in our stores either.”

It added “We sincerely regret that this case might be interpreted as a trivialisation of Coeliac disease, the absolute opposite of our intentions.”

Casadesús was pleased with the success of her plea, telling The Local:

 “I was really surprised by Zara’s quick response, both on Change.org and in its actions, pulling the T-shirts from sale in its stores and online.

“The truth is that I just wanted Zara to reflect on the message, I was trying to explain that perhaps it wasn’t the best way to make people aware of the illness.”

While the store claims to be unaware of how the slogan would be construed, the reaction provides them with an invaluable lesson about the weight of words.

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