Topshop has been criticised for "glamorising self-harm" after selling gold transferable scar tattoos as part of a collection aimed to "celebrate our imperfections". The controversial designs were accused of resembling scars from self-harm and the high-street chain was condemned for "romanticising and glamorising mental illness" after they went on sale.
The tattoos, which were sold in selected shops and online for £8.50 ($13), were designed by Central Saint Martins student Lucie Davis as part of a collaboration between Topshop and the prestigious art school in London. Davis said her collection, which included golden freckles and moles, was designed to "encourage a greater appreciation and personal ownership of ourselves through highlighting imperfections and celebrating difference".
However, the retail giant came under criticism for the tattoos, with many describing the designs as "offensive" and "disgusting". An online petition demanding Topshop remove the tattoos has also received more than 1,800 signatures.
Lucas Shelemy, who started the petition, said: "The tagline of the product, of celebrating your 'imperfections' seems distasteful in the case of scars but more worrying still is how the majority of the designs resemble self-harm scars.
"Topshop should not be normalising self-harm or presenting it as a fashion trend. Not only is the glamorisation of self-injury dangerous for the mainly teenage demographic but harmful for others who have struggled with self-harm and see what for them, is a painful reminder being presented as acceptable – as long as its temporary and elegant."
On the product's page on Topshop's website, one reviewer added: "I can't believe Topshop are glorifying self-harm scars, whilst not advertised as self-harm scars the scars are placed on the arm in a row which is the stereotypical idea of self-harm, absolutely disgusted."
The retailer has now apologised for any offence caused by the item and confirmed it will be removing them from sale. A spokesperson said: "Topshop apologises for any distress or offence these products have caused. The products in question are part of the 'Freedom' range, which is a concession range sold in Topshop stores by a third party concessionaire.
"All customer feedback is taken very seriously and, as such, we have instructed the concessionaire in question to remove this particular collection of Freedom products from Topshop stores and Topshop.com immediately."
IBTimes UK has contacted Davis for comment.