Why Abercrombie & The ‘Fitch the Homeless’ Campaign Are Not MisGuided

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You and I both want racial, gender and physical equality, but we probably have two very different ideas of how it should be enacted. Your method most likely involves attempting to banish hurtful words, ostracizing “meanies” and generally pretending that there is no difference along any of those ethnic, sexual or physical lines. Everybody is all the same, everybody dance!

My view on the matter states that everyone needs to develop thicker skin (except people with eczema). See, there are differences in the world between races and genders and fat people and thin people, but so what? We can all laugh and be friends and celebrate (and mock) one another’s differences and everyone can still dance. Of course, neither method will likely work, but at least mine is plausible (good luck banishing “negative” words).

I haven’t had to think about Abercrombie & Fitch maybe ever — until this week. Growing up in Northern California, there wasn’t one within 300 miles of me. By the time I got to Los Angeles, I was too fat to worry about it. It was some popular nothing of a chain that the trendy kids shopped at. Whatever.

But now, I can’t go more than a few hours without someone talking about what an evil mean-spirited company it is and how ugly the CEO, Mike Jeffries, is. First off, wait a minute! Isn’t your side the one who is trying to do away with that whole “looks matter” ish? That is akin to when the Ann Coulter haters called her a “retard” for using the term “retard.” At least on my side we can call people “ugly,” but they understand that just because they don’t conform to my personal standard of beauty, it doesn’t mean that they actually are ugly. On my side, there are no truly ugly people — just differences of opinion. Surely someone out there finds Mike Jeffries to be as if sculpted by Michelangelo himself, so scrap the hatred there.

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Next, his marketing strategy is exclusive, but so what? Certainly people have the right to get angry, but notice that word in there — “right.” You have the right to boycott Jeffries’ stores and his apparel as much as Jeffries has the right to boycott my patronage. That is what makes America so friggin’ amazing! Yes, there are exclusionary clubs and people and caste systems, but so what? Armani hates on poor people by making his clothing line exclusive to those who can afford the hundreds or thousands of dollars he charges per item. Do we hate him for it? No, we aspire to be one of those who can afford to be in the “Armani club.” The same goes for hundreds, if not thousands, of other brands worldwide. By creating a niche-based clothing company and being unabashed about it, Jeffries stands to win or lose by his decision to be exclusionary. But it’s ridiculous to attempt to strip him of that right via bully tactics. What happened to the good old days when people who didn’t like something would just turn the channel? Now we’ve got millions of people all attempting to reshape America into their own vision of exactly what America should be — instead of figuring out how to thrive in the great melting pot of this country.

Today, everyone is outraged by the idea of the “Clothes the homeless in your old Abercrombie & Fitch clothing” campaign — they think it’s “mean to the homeless” to paint them as a society of people who are “lesser than” the rest of us — and thus befitting of this “wicked brand.” According to people like Thomas L. McDonald, a writer for Patheos.com: “This stunt is based on the exact same premise offered by Jeffries: that some people are ‘unworthy’ to wear A&F clothes. The hipster doofus* handing out A&F clothing to people on the street is doing it because he accepts the notion that they’re somehow lesser than ‘the rest of us.’ His stunt has no bite without this assumption.”

At the end of the day, these people need clothing. ANY CLOTHING, really. At a certain level, we have to accept that on Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” physiological and safety [clothing] comes well in advance of “esteem.” Greg Karber, founder of the “Fitch the Homeless” campaign might have had a smugness to his notion that he would punish Jeffries by giving his “exclusive clothing” to homeless people and therefore be making a statement against Jeffries at the expense of the homeless. But all my side sees is a man inspiring people to donate their perfectly good clothing to people who could really use them. And I’m sure that the homeless, by and large, are happy to take useful clothing — if for nothing else, than to use as high-end toilet paper.

 

 

*Notice that he calls Greg Karber a “hipster doofus” (see? even the people on your side just can’t get past the labels and negative words). Or how about Karber in his video asking for “the Douchebag section”? Sticks and stones, people.

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