COLUMN: How Primark left me feeling angry - and cheated - on International Women's Day

Writer Adele Forrest's visit to Primark left her questioning the clothing chain's attitude to healthy eating.

I HAPPENED to visit Primark in Parkgate on International Women’s Day yesterday and it turned out to be a stark and sad reminder that we still have so far to go in the fight for equality.

I nipped in to the store yesterday to buy some gloves and was faced with a poster of a woman modelling a jumper (pictured) with a picture of donuts on it and the slogan, “Donut judge me, it’s cheat day”.

This isn’t a funny pun — it's an extremely dangerous concept to be exposing young girls to and to then expect them to literally carry around and share with their friends.

Primark are shaming women for eating (you know that quite important thing we have to do to stay alive) and promoting an unhealthy attitude towards food that, in turn, creates poor or at the most extreme level, deadly eating habits.

Schoolgirls shouldn’t know what so-called “cheat days” are.

I’m not even sure what one is but I'm guessing it was made up by a probably overweight slimming club big wig. 

It raises the question, if they should feel shameful about enjoying donuts on a “cheat day”, what does the next day bring for a young girl, starvation day? Bulimia day?

Primark seems blissfully unaware that eating disorders are still one of the biggest killers of any psychiatric illness. 

As I stood dismally staring at the poster I was internally screaming: ‘FOR GOD'S SAKE JUST LEAVE THEM ALONE AND LET THEM EAT CAKE’.

Ironically, I had eaten a lot of cake that day so I had enough energy to run around the store to try and find the same item of clothing in the boys’ range.

But surprise surprise,  there was no men’s hoody emblazoned with “A moment on the lips means a lifetime on the hips”, or any boxer shorts that said “Little pickers wear bigger knickers”.

The slogan is also doing a huge disservice to Joe Public here too in suggesting that he/she walks around taking swipe at anyone seen enjoying a dessert, so much so you need one of these jumpers to fend them off and silently apologise to.

Growing up, I would often hear phrases like “you eat a lot for a girl” (what does that even mean?), whereas my brother was told he needed more food “because he was “a growing lad”. 

Why are girls told to limit, monitor and watch what they eat but boys are invited back for seconds?

I thought times had moved on, but to be confronted by this sexist, shameful slogan in one of the country’s biggest retailers that schoolgirls flock to in their droves has shocked me.

I was even more saddened for it to be happening on International Women’s Day, when I had spent a lot of my day hearing about the great work companies like South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue were doing to promote equality and tell girls there were no gender barriers and they could achieve the same as their male peers. 

Hmmm, but maybe they won’t have enough fire and fuel in their belly if they’re trying to make it a male-dominated industry on a cheat day?

I feel fortunate to have been brought up by parents who have a healthy attitude towards food — there were no diet books or scales in my house.

Instead my mum always told us “everything in moderation”, which is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever being given. 

Doesn’t make for a catchy T-shirt slogan, though, does it?

Oh, and I never did get those gloves as Primark now think it’s summer — I feel cheated.

q PRIMARK said in a statement: “Promoting a healthy body image is important to Primark and we take great care to ensure the appropriateness of our products.

“This sweatshirt is intended to be a fun product and any upset caused is wholly unintentional.”