This week, popular clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch pulled several T-shirts off its shelves in response to a boycott of the company by teenage girls across the country. The T-shirts pulled featured slogans that objectify women and prolong the old stereotype that women do not need brains, just great bodies.
With T-shirts reading “Who needs brains when you have these?” “Blondes are adored, brunettes are ignored,” and “I make you look fat,” it’s a wonder that any intelligent individual shops at A&F. In the store’s attempts to be humorous, they are instead offending their customers. Yet in October, A&F reported a 31 percent jump in sales – WTF mate?!
A&F is notorious for controversy with its borderline-pornographic catalogs featuring nude models, which begs for the question, isn’t this a clothing company? And therefore, shouldn’t their models be modeling clothes? Customers have to be at least 18 years old in order to purchase a catalog, but the majority of people shopping at A&F are in high school and cannot legally buy the catalog ( or real porn, cigarettes, and lottery tickets for that matter). Yet, somehow their sales are increasing. So who is shopping at A&F?
The answer is simple: the girls who think it’s funny to draw attention to their breasts and laugh that their bleach-blonde hair makes them dumb; the girls who use their femininity as a crutch, an excuse to dress like a slut or act like an idiot. These are the people shopping in a store that hires only attractive, skinny, white people to sell their merchandise.
Let me clarify where I am coming from: I am a blonde, white female, and while I am a size 4, I have not fit into anything Abercrombie since my freshman year of high school. Even a size large T-shirt was too tight and too short, so it seems one also has to be anorexic to wear A&F.
Society is full of rules for women: be thin but have big breasts, grow long hair on your head but wax everything else, be intelligent but don’t let the men know, and the list goes on and on. Television, magazines, and celebrities challenge women to obtain the unattainable perfect body and lifestyle. But so many women in their efforts to achieve perfection are whoring their bodies out as a means of getting what they want.
We’re all guilty of it, crying to a police officer to get out of a speeding ticket, batting our eyes at a bouncer to let us into a club for free, or wearing a low-cut top to entice a male teacher to give us a better grade.
As a female, having breasts is a given; every second person in the world has them, even your mom. Yes, sex sells and while we ladies have the bodies to flaunt, why not work it?
Trouble is it’s the 21st century, a time of liberals versus conservatives, not men versus women. The women’s rights movement is over and women are closer than ever to achieving equality in the workplace, in education, and in politics. In the next few years, we may even see a female president.
Women are strong and intelligent but seem to be using their powers for evil and manipulation rather than for good. Instead of flaunting our brains, we are flaunting our bodies.
Some may argue, “Jessica Simpson didn’t go to college and look how successful she’s been!” We can wear Daisy Dukes, stiletto heels and dresses that plunge like J.Lo’s in this sexually progressive era, yet as proven by the stir the CPSalsa Club caused by printing posters showing a partial breast, so much skin can be distracting. Girls are using this to their advantage and are prolonging the stereotypes that blondes are in fact dumb, (though we do have more fun!) and a set of implants or a push-up bra can get that free drink, or a good deal on a car bought with Daddy’s credit card.
I applaud the teenagers who launched a “girl-cott” of Abercrombie & Fitch because they are taking a stand against society rather than succumbing to another stereotype or social norm.
If people continue to think outdated notions that women don’t need an education if they’ve got a great body and good childbearing hips are amusing, then we might as well live in the black-and-white world of “Pleasantville,” where ignorance is bliss.
“Honey – am I home?”
Louise Dolby is a journalism senior and the Mustang Daily design editor.