Thursday, March 31, 2011

Turn Off the Abercrombie & Fitch Switch

Abercrombie and Fitch rides again. Arghhh! What the heck are they thinking over there? Padded bikini tops for 7-year-olds?! This is outrageous on so many levels…where to begin?

Let’s start with the concept of sexualizing little girls: It disgusts and infuriates. It makes a person wonder if actual perverts direct their product development and marketing departments. Who else would be thinking of little girls in these sexual terms? And who else wants little girls to think of themselves in this way?

What’s next? Padded jock straps and swim trunks for little boys? After all…wait, no, I won’t bring myself to formulate even a mocking sentence to express their deviant train of thought.

Suggesting little girls are inadequate without padding is nothing else but aberrant. Little girls and little boys are perfect as they are. Let’s preserve their freshness and innocence.

So much research exists establishing that such demoralizing overtures as those from A&F lead to low self-esteem and depression in children and young adults. Early sexualization of children contributes to the development of serious maladies including eating disorders and promiscuity.

But why not? This is Abercrombie & Fitch’s typical mode of operating. It’s who they are. Remember their release of thongs for little girls in 2002? Not to mention their recurrent ads showing pre-teens in sexually charged positions.

Oh wait…of course!’s a profit-making scheme! There’s a buck to be made here. And we’ve fallen prey to their unseemly conniving. We’re talking about A&F; we’re viewing their website to see for ourselves. We’re writing about our outrage and fomenting others to join the conversation…about Abercrombie & Fitch.

So I’m their dupe. I’m guilty of perpetuating their sinister scheme. Well, I once was blind, but now, may I ever so humbly suggest that you not do as I have done? Let’s you and I put an end to it now. We’ll not speak of A&F nor send them money ever again. No more.

I’m putting them out of my mind and forgetting them. With luck they’ll go the way of pet rocks – once the rage, now a laughable footnote. A blip. An anomaly. A remnant of a lesser existence. A bad taste swirled away with Listerine – the original green Listerine - the one that burned your mouth so you knew it really worked. A&F? An unpleasant experience put in perspective and relegated to the cramped corner of a musty shelf in the basement of purgatory.

Now. Let’s talk about something else. Ok. Deep breath.

It’s April Fool’s Day. A week’s worth of sunshine makes all the difference doesn’t it? Soon we’ll have our Farmers’ Market again and every reason to be outdoors and friendly with our neighbors, sharing community spirit and barbeque chicken kabobs. Tulips and jonquils bloom so full of color! Absolutely uplifting.

My father-in-law’s birthday is today, April Fool’s Day. I’ve always said that might account for his quirky personality. He’s prone to leg pulling and practical jokes. Once, my husband and I sat with him in a huge outdoor amphitheater with an audience that included senators from around the country. When the master of ceremonies mentioned that fact and asked the senators to stand and be recognized, he stood up with them and accepted the applause. (P.S. - He’s not a senator.)

For several years, until I learned to be dubious of his earnest declarations, he had me believing that I had married into the Plath family, as in Sylvia Plath, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. He spoke fondly of his cousin Sylvia and their idyllic youth, though he didn’t get to see her often back then. Being a writer myself, and when you add to it that my parents actually considered naming me Sylvia, well, the mind boggles. It was quite thrilling for me, until the comic letdown when I learned the truth.

Such a card. Lloyd. We’ll be celebrating his 91st birthday tonight with family close by. Lately, we’ve been prompting him to recount (true) stories of his life and times. We sneak a tape recorder into the room since he’s a little camera shy. Kids and grandkids delight in having his resonant voice preserved along with the charming tales of his rural childhood, romping with three rough-and-tumble brothers near Madison, Wisconsin, or of his courting Frances, the love of his life, and wife of more than 60 years.

There. Now. I feel better. Don’t you?