Benton, IL – An Illinois mother said she was shocked when a t-shirt she ordered for her three-year-old daughter showed up with the words “F--K THE POLICE” emblazoned on the front.
"I literally did not know how to react so I just took a few moments to stare at it and try to process," Kelsey Williamson told BuzzFeed News. "Of all the things they could have added, why that? On a children’s-size shirt?"
Williamson says she frequently shops online to find cute clothing items for her three-year-old daughter, Salem.
“Salem probably has 50-plus different little boutique outfits from my favorite store on AliExpress," she explained.
AliExpress is an online Chinese retailer that connects western buys with retailers in China.
Williamson said she came upon a t-shirt that featured an image from author and illustrator Arnold Lobel’s classic children’s book characters, “Frog and Toad,” selling for approximately $5, so she ordered it up.
But when Salem’s new shirt arrived, Williamson realized that the retailer had added a slogan that was not advertised on the website.
“F--K THE POLICE,” read the caption beneath an iconic image of Frog and Toad riding a tandem bike.
Williamson said she was stunned.
“I literally did not even know what to do when I opened the bag,” she told WFLD.
She FaceTimed her husband to show him what happened, BuzzFeed News reported.
"We both just lost it, dying of laughter,” she said. “All he could say was 'Oh s--t.'"
Williamson posted a photo of Salem modeling the shirt onto Facebook, and it quickly went viral.
“What I ordered VS what I received,” she captured the image. “I DID NOT BUY THIS. THIS IS WHAT I WAS SENT.”
Williamson noted that Salem cannot read and does not understand what the shirt means.
“So she has no idea that any of this is going on,” she told WFLD. “I seriously can’t even believe it’s gotten this huge.”
While most people found the situation amusing, others accosted Williamson and her daughter about her daughter’s weight, she said.
"People were actually messaging me just to say mean things about her," Williamson told BuzzFeed News. "A ton of people calling her fat, asking me what I feed her to make her so big, telling me the shirt I bought was too small."
The mother said she contemplated taking the post down, but ultimately edited it instead.
“JUST LAUGH AT THE FUNNY SHIRT,” she suggested.
Williamson said that Salem won’t be wearing the shirt in public, and explained that she plans to tuck it away “in her baby box so we can bring it up when she’s older,” she told BuzzFeed News.
Blue Lives Matter spoke with an apparel industry expert who explained the problem.
Joseph Murphy is the president of Warrior 12, a patriotic apparel company based in St. Louis. (DISCLOSURE: Warrior 12 creates official Blue Lives Matter shirts and gear and give the proceeds to Blue Lives Matter.)
"Asian companies try to make clothes to sell to English-speaking countries, but they don't understand their customers or why they choose to purchase a shirt," Murphy said.
"They steal artwork and designs from other shirts or internet memes, but they don't actually understand what the message on the shirt means," Murphy explained. "In this case, they clearly just ripped off a Frog and Toad FTP meme."
Murphy retired from law enforcement to run Warrior 12, and says that cheap ripoffs are an issue he deals with daily.
"We had one company in Vietnam rip off our 'Blessed Are The Peacemakers' law enforcement shirt and replace the police hat with a firefighter helmet. I imagine they didn't sell too many of those," Murphy said with a laugh.
He added that he wouldn't trust the quality of any item on AliExpress.
"If you order apparel from China or Vietnam, chances are more likely than not that you're going to have problems with your order," Murphy warned.