I have never been one to jump onto the bandwagon of ‘boycotting’ stores when Christian organizations tell me I should.
Half of my kid’s video library just might be produced by Walt Disney.
I may or may not be drinking a cup of Starbucks coffee as I type this.
And Target…oh Target…I have never parted ways with you.
I respect people who boycott companies that do not line up with their religious or moral standards.
Good for them.
My attitude of being seemingly apathetic about supporting or not supporting businesses is likely a result of the fact that I have always had a disdain for spending money anyway.
For some shopping is like therapy.
When I go to a mall, I need to take blood pressure medicine because I get so frustrated with what stores want to charge me for a new pair of sandals when I just got a like new pair at Salvation Army for a dollar.
To be honest, there are some stores in the mall that I have avoided all together.
One of those stores is Abercrombie & Fitch.
After reading an article today…..now I know why I never felt comfortable in their store.
I thought it was just because of the large images of kids scantily dressed in sexual poses.
I remember some years ago the Christian world pushing a ban of Abercrombie and Fitch because of these images that the company even plasters on their bags. I didn’t really have to boycott them…I had never really wanted to buy anything in there.
The few times I dared to go behind the scary barricaded entrance of Abercrombie, I felt as if I did not belong. I could never really put my finger on it, but it was obvious that that place was not for me.
Honestly, when I did dare to go inside, I think I never purchased anything there for fear of having to carry one of those ridiculous bags around the mall.
This morning I read an article that caused me to connect the dots of my relationship history with Abercrombie and Fitch.
This past week a 2006 interview of Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jefferies hit the internet.
The internet has exploded with shock at his statement.
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes]. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
I wasn’t really shocked. I think it was something I knew all the time about the store but could not really put my finger on. While everyone else lashed out about the sexual images in the store, there was something else about the store that stirred up dislike in my heart…..but I could never really explain it.
Abercrombie and Fitch markets to skinny, cool kids. These are the kids they want working for them and shopping at their stores..
I have worn size 10 or 12 jeans since high school. That’s what happens when you have an athletic body and you are a runner and lift weights. Your backside and your thighs expand and you have to buy jeans to fit your muscles.
As a teenager and college student, I hated shopping for jeans. While all my ‘skinny’ friends could squeeze into size 4 or 6, I was stuck in the dressing room dreaming of getting a size 8 pulled up passed my thighs.
Funny thing is…no one ever believed me if I told them what size jeans I wore. I was far from being ‘fat.’
Yet, as a teenager, I would likely have not been able to have found a pair of jeans in Abercrombie and Fitch to fit me.
And cool is something I have never been called or aspired to be.
So, the mystery is solved.
Abercrombie and Fitch is not seeking my business. I am neither skinny nor cool.
This morning after reading articles on the internet about the CEO’s statement, my thoughts turned towards my 8-year-old daughter. She has legs I always dreamed of having. Long, skinny and not bulging with muscles.
She got her Daddy’s looks, and I won’t be surprised if someday she could be in the Miss Oklahoma pageant like her Daddy’s sister was.
If I am guessing, in a few years Abercrombie and Fitch would love to have her visit their store and parade around in a hoodie that advertises their store’s name.
So…as a parent what will I say when she asks, “Can we go to the mall? I want to get a pair of jeans from Abercrombie.”
Will I tell her ‘no’ because we don’t shop there?
Will I share with her my story of never feeling like I fit in at that store?
Here is what I hope will happen.
I will sit her down and talk honestly with her about my heart’s convictions.
I will mention her sweet friend who is overweight and how they don’t want her shopping in their store.
Then I will bring up her friend who has Special Needs and by American culture definition would not be considered cool or beautiful. I will explain to my daughter that this precious friend of hers is not wanted as a shopper in an Abercrombie and Fitch store.
My daughter is full of compassion. One of my goals for my children has always been to instill in them a desire to be a friend to the friendless. Both of my kids have blown me away with who they have befriended at school.
There’s the kid my daughter talks about playing with at school that even I have caught myself calling ‘weird.’
And then there’s the precious special needs child that always gets put in my son’s group because of how kind my son is to her.
Am I angry at Abercrombie and Fitch?
Mr. Jefferies is a business man. He is living out ‘his American dream’ of being rich and successful.
Honestly my heart breaks for him.
He finds his happiness in his pocketbook and in the numbers he sees in the Wall Street journal.
This kind of happiness is fleeting.
I want to teach my children to find happiness in things that don’t change when the economy hits rock bottom.
I don’t want to raise children who hinge their self-worth on the classifications of beautiful and cool.
Up until today, if I had found an Abercrombie and Fitch shirt at a yard sale or Goodwill, I might have considered buying it if I could have purchased it for a dollar.
But after reading the statements that I read today, I think I will likely pass up the bargain next time I see it.
Not out of some bold desire to boycott a company. They really don’t want me in their store anyhow.
I will continue to choose to walk past the wonderful smelling scent that pours out of an Abercrombie and Fitch store, because I want to teach my son and daughter that this store is teaching a distorted definition of beautiful and cool.
True ‘coolness’ is sitting by the chunky, unpopular kid at lunch. (which my son told me he did)
True ‘beauty’ is telling the girl who dresses in old worn out clothes that you like her shirt. (which this girl’s mom with tears in her eyes told me my daughter said to her daughter one day at school)
Though boycotting stores no doubt can shift a company’s marketing strategies, I think there is a bigger way to impact the world.
Before we point a finger at Mr. Jefferies and begin blaming him for the bullying problem in America, maybe we each need to examine our own hearts.
When is the last time I have intentionally hung out with the ‘uncool’ or ‘unlovely?’
Do I secretly desire for my kids to be ‘cool’ by the world’s standards?
Am I teaching my kids to befriend the kids that Mr. Jefferies doesn’t want to work at or shop in his stores?
For me…this is the action point after reading the article. Examining my own heart by asking these questions.
If we all joined together and asked ourselves these questions, I think it would have a greater impact on the children of America than any store boycott ever could.