As part of the brand’s DIY Docs feature, a Dr. Martens shoe depicted a woman who had undergone top surgery for gender transition. The DIY Docs feature seeks to highlight independent artists who redesign the classic Dr. Martens shoe, frequently to promote LGBT causes.
The most recent illustration is by queer illustrator Jess Vosseteig, whose work focuses on inclusivity, empowerment, and creating conversations surrounding feminism and the queer community. On the company’s website, Vosseteig stated, “I adore illustrating to empower all genders, break gender stereotypes, and promote body positivity/neutrality. I want my audience to feel seen and heard in my work, to feel empowered to be themselves, to enlighten others, and to push the boundaries of society!”
The most notable element of her shoe design is a pink woman with what appears to be scarring from a double mastectomy, a procedure frequently used by transgender men to transition. The inspiration for my design came from a desire to symbolize gay happiness! I wanted to incorporate two stylized members of the LGBTQ community. I knew I wanted to integrate rainbows, clouds, and sparkles to add a lot of color! On the back, I wrote ‘Queer Joy’ to convey that queer joy will always exist,” Vosseteig explained.
Dr. Martens X Vosseteig Shoe Contest: Unattainable Pair Up for Grabs on Instagram
Tuesday on its Instagram account in the United States, Dr. Martens advertised a free giveaway of a pair of shoes that are not for sale. By July 31, followers who loved the post, followed both Dr. Martens and Vosseteig, and tagged a friend were eligible for the contest. The shoe appears unavailable for purchase on Vosseteig’s personal website as well.
Although Dr. Martens declined to comment, the company verified that it will not be selling the show and that the design was created solely by the artist. As well as Dr. Martens, the design was criticized on social media for promoting gender transition surgeries. The controversy resembles the initial backlash surrounding the Bud Light brand after transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney unveiled a customized beer can bearing the visage of an activist.
The company immediately insisted that the can was not intended for sale, but the promotion led to a massive drop in sales, effectively destroying Bud Light’s reputation as America’s most popular beer brand. In the DIY Docs section of the Dr. Martens website, there were also shoes promoting LGBT activism with designs reading QUEER and Trans Love. Several other shoe brands collaborated with the LGBT activist organization The Trevor Project.