For some reason, I seem to have these amazing discussions with Spiderman and Bones when we’re in the car which tells me one of two things: 1. either we spend too much time in the car, or 2. I only talk about important issues when there’s nowhere for them to run!
Yesterday’s conversation started with “Do you have any Abercrombie and Fitch clothes?”
You see, a while back, the CEO of Abercrombie said they don’t carry XL or XXL women’s clothing in their stores as they’re not interested in un-cool, un-popular, overweight girls wearing their clothes.
There are stores that many of us don’t shop in because they don’t fit our body type…or our bank account…or our style. However, to publicly make a statement as to why you don’t carry a particular size…to keep away a particular group of impressionable young people…is paramount to verbal abuse and bullying.
It reminds me of the story many years back when my friend CA was in Toronto shopping. She peered at the sizes of 0-L-S and 1-R-S in the racks of jeans and for the life of her, couldn’t figure out what the sizes meant. Calling over the salesperson and in a rather funny demeanour she pointed at the racks and whispered… “I can’t break the code!” She was given an eye roll and a grunt followed by a look up and down and a snarky retort of “we don’t have anything to fit you.”
Well…you don’t know CA! She grabbed a pair of pants, headed into the dressing room and proceeded to stuff every last square inch of her rather small self into the fabric…came out, gasping, and announced “they fit…I’ll get them,” then stared the sales girl down as she proudly made her purchase knowing she’d probably never wear the uncomfortable pants again.
I might add…she originally entered the store as it was dark and loud and she mistakenly assumed it was a pub and she was hoping for a beer and a plate of nachos. AND, while trying on those pants in the very same dressing room, she actually got herself stuck inside of a blouse…not to mention, she tried on a tube top as a skirt!
Here’s the thing…every store has a target market and products are made to suit that market and in the case of Abercrombie and Fitch and their group of sister stores…it’s teens with parents who can easily be talked into spending too much money on this “must have” clothing. But…do you think those parents spending their hard-earned money don’t know what’s going on?
For years I’ve known my children were being used and on occasion, I fully admit, I feel a sense of guilt as my child steps out of the house dressed as a walking billboard. But to them…they just want to fit in…feel like they belong in a world where the marketers have done their job!
I’ve talked to them about this…how brand names don’t make the person. As a graphic designer and being part of this marketing phenomenon, I’ve talked/lectured them about their choices and how they’re being manipulated. They know it…they accept it. They just want to be like everyone else and until they find their own voice and place in this world…I’m resigned to be ok with that. However, I have issue sitting back and watching my children wear a product that represents itself in such a way that openly bullies other children? That is meant to make my children feel superior to other children.
The CEO, Mike Jeffries has said, “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” followed with “we go after the cool kids.”
What about the group of kids who just don’t want to wear the clothing because they don’t want to look like everyone else? The ones with their own style? Are they not cool because Abercrombie says they’re not? Is Abercrombie that full of themselves?
Ultimately…despite what sizes Abercrombie carries or who they market their product for…the “overweight kids can’t be popular and we only market to popular kids” theory is, in my opinion, over the top!
As Amy Taylor so eloquently says in her article (and I won’t repeat everything she says but please read it as she makes some amazing points)…if we replaced the word overweight with GAY or BLACK…it sounds ATROCIOUS!
We’re living in a world where kids are committing suicide because they can’t take the bullying. Where they starve themselves because they don’t think they’re beautiful.
For any company to make a brash statement as to why they exclude any group of children where they associate “being cool” with “being thin” is WRONG!
It’s time for me to wake up about what my kids are representing by wearing these labels! The fact is, the article with Mike Jeffries’ statements was written many years ago…and only now coming to light in this social media age that we’re in but we need to be aware of these things and educate our children.
Bottom line…I’m a mom…trying to raise my kids in this world where so many cruel realities are thrown at them on a daily basis. We discuss what we believe is right and wrong in our home and yesterday, seeing this media outrage, it gave me another opportunity to have a discussion with my children…on something they both agreed is “really not cool!” I thank Abercrombie for giving me the opportunity to have this conversation with them.
I’m doing my best to raise my children to be good people. To respect. To love. To treat others with kindness and empathy.
It would really be a help if more companies that have a “marketing hold” on my children, would do the same.
Next car discussion…sweat shops and low wages…