I just can’t figure out which is more offensive:
1) The statements made years ago by Mike Jeffries, CEO of A&F.
2) The ‘shock’ of the middle to upperclass masses who were, apparently, oblivious to how horrible they were to overweight and poor people in middle/high school. (Seriously? These comments came as a surprise to you? That says far more about you than Jeffries. If his comments surprise you then you were probably the kind of person who wore–or still wears–clothes of a similar nature to A&F. I don’t understand how you just woke up to the politics of advertising and branding. Where’ve you been?)
3) The video of Greg Karber giving A&F clothes to homeless people. Because, you know, what could be more offensive to the wealthy than the poor wearing the same clothes as the rich? And since we all know that homeless people are barely human, what better way to offend Jeffries than by giving them his clothes?
The fact that you see Karber’s strategy as an even remotely interesting move is just one more reason why you still don’t get it.
So, which one do I find more offensive? Well, I’m going to go ahead and rule out number one. Again, I ask (and I hope you will ask yourself), how is it that Jeffries’s comments are surprising to you? Who didn’t already know this? How far up the backside of classism do you have to be to not know how clothing companies work?
How did you not know that this is how it works?
That’s exactly why so many of you shop at the places you shop. Any of you A&F haters buy your clothes at K-Mart? Likely, not. Why don’t you? Why don’t you buy your children clothing from K-Mart? Are you worried they won’t have friends if you don’t provide them with the right brands? As a child, I had clothes from K-Mart. Of course, it was out of necessity because it was the cheapest clothing we could find. We were pretty damn poor. But the thing is, I had no idea there was anything ‘wrong’ with their clothes until my peers in school ‘taught’ me that valuable lesson.
Thanks, assholes. Your parents did a lovely job.
Now, I’m seeing those same peers get up in arms about how horrible a person Jeffries is which allows them to think that, despite how shitty they were (or, still are), they now occupy the high ground.
No. No, you don’t.
You still don’t get it. Many of you only purchase your clothing at select places because you’re worried that your kids won’t have any friends (or, the right friends–i.e., “not poor”) in school. You’re still teaching your kids that if they don’t wear clothes with the right tags then they won’t be popular (which, in turn, of course, says something about your own popularity). It’s you that made people like Jeffries possible. It’s you.
And, dammit, it’s probably me too.
About the Author
Tripp York teaches religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the author of more than half a dozen books including, Third Way Allegiance, The Purple Crown, and Living on Hope While Living in Babylon. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming three-volume collection called the Peaceable Kingdom Series. An actor and a lighting designer, Tripp also surfs and spends his weekends shoveling elephant and giraffe poop.