It has been more than a week since I was making a connecting flight in Minneapolis, I caught CNN and heard about Abercrombie & Fitch not making XL clothes for women. Since then I have seen followup stories and lots of social media posts on it.
My reaction didn’t seem to be reflected in social media much. I saw people talking about not being one of the cool kids if you can’t fit in AF clothes, people talking about girls & their (at times fragile) self-image. I saw lots of outrage directed at the company’s leadership. People saying they will never shop there.
What was (and still is) missing? For me I was missing a reality check… Actually several reality checks.
Is this really news?
I am not too sure how long AF has been at the mall, but I always knew they didn’t have clothes that fit me. Even as a thin high school student, my shoulders were too broad, my hips too wide.
So to me, the fact that they didn’t have clothes larger than a size 10 should not be considered news. My sister shared my disbelief that this was “news” and thought if parents of teens (like her) hadn’t noticed, maybe they were in part upset with themselves. And yet hundreds of stories have been done on the topic in the last week all expressing outrage over something that has been going on and talked about for years.
I know some people will point out the fact that the guy making such reprehensible comments about he only markets to cool kids, kids of a certain size (and I would add a family with a sizable income)…. Well that certainly makes it news. I guess this makes me wonder about the way people judge news value.
How many people were willing to put this into context as “news?” Not nearly enough. I find it amazing since I have a friend who’s family remains under siege in Syria. We have people doing incredible work in their communities, work that if it were more widely celebrated may be duplicated. And then we have this stuff….. This stuff that just doesn’t add any value but drives clicks on the Internet and ratings on TV. But make no mistake, these headlines are not written by journalists!
Who are the cool kids?
I feel safe in saying I was not one of the cool kids, especially if it was judged by name brand clothes. I may have occasionally thought I was one of the cool kids in school somewhere along the line, but I certainly had times where I doubted I could ever be cool. But more than anything, I think I am lucky because my mom tried hard to teach us that being “cool” isn’t the goal we should have.
Granted, we had moments where we may have forgotten, but I feel like my mom did a great job of helping me understand we all have communities – some wear name brand labels, some don’t; some included sports stars and cheerleaders; some may not; but clothes and labels and titles weren’t the things that brought happiness to folks. And it still doesn’t.
Not Everything Fits Everyone
I have shopped at AF once. I remember the Christmas gift I was buying clearly. It was for someone who is far from materialistic and is incredibly generous. A friend had a certain cologne, it was the one thing on the Christmas list.
Clothes there don’t fit many of my family since we are mostly girls and most of us have not spent much of our lives in sizes 6 & 8. On the other hand, I have adult friends who are too small to buy many clothes in all the stores people like to shop in either. Yes, some of them still buy children’s clothes despite being in their 40s. It sucks and whether businesses choose to do it for marketing reasons and maybe they have jerks as CEOs but its the real world that businesses focus on specific market segments. It’s also the way the world works. Companies don’t make everything everyone would like. Is that news to anyone?
Expect Idiots to Say Dumb Things
I am sorry but in all of the talking and protest I’ve seen (and yes, it is still going on) I haven’t seen too many people just say you need to anticipate running into idiots and jerks in life. Sure, the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch has a much more public forum and perhaps he can impact more people but come on.
As people denounced him, I didn’t hear people saying they were glad their children know better. But I have to say that I count on my nieces and nephews to know that the logo on your clothes doesn’t denote coolness. And in fact, my nephew and friends from his wrestling team, etc frequently speak up on the topic of bullying. They don’t want to have anything to do with it and they make sure others know.
I know my nephew has Abercrombie clothes and he has really enjoyed them. He may look at them differently but my hope is he still looks at people the same way — like each one is unique with the potential to be totally awesome, however he needs to also understand they can also be an idiot who does and say ignorant things. My nephew didn’t judge people by their looks before and I don’t think he is about to start…. THAT is what makes him a really cool kid.