I am late to this A & F bashing party. If you have been living under a social media rock and have no idea what I am talking about, see the snippets from the Salon.com interview here. I’ve made my opinion known on Facebook and Twitter and have shared several posts from other blogs on their opinions.
Like Snarkfest here here.
And People I Want To Punch In The Throat here.
But I have not, until now, posted my own thoughts.
Because I needed a moment to think about how I’d discuss a topic that is so personal in such a public way. So for the 3 people that follow me, know I’ve put a lot of thought into this. 🙂
It is no secret among my close friends that I have had past struggles with eating disorders. But I have tended to joke about it in a past tense type of way rather than delve into the world of what it is like to be consumed by a disease- yes, a disease- that is almost encouraged by a society’s view that “skinny” is “cool”.
And when you have companies like A & F whose CEO convey’s this:.
He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’” Salon.com via Elite Daily.
you have the thoughts of misguided impressionable teenagers, that in order to fit in you needed to be “skinny”, validated.
Growing up I always thought I wasn’t “skinny” enough. I ran track and was really good- but thought I’d be better if I was “skinnier”. Never mind the fact that you actually need to eat when you train and exercise to be able to function and not do things like, say, pass out.
But to a teenage girl, that did not compute. I’d look in the mirror and hate what I saw. I’d take a shower and hate what I saw. I’d get undressed and hate what I saw. I’d get dressed and I’d hate what I saw.
My body was not overweight, but my mind thought it was. It was a pretty lose-lose situation between my head and my body.
So I set goals. “Only eat one meal today”. And then more goals. “I won’t eat today and I’ll just eat one meal tomorrow”. Helllooo anorexia.
And if I failed and ate, well then, there were ways to get the food out quickly. Helloooo bulimia.
And then when I’d get hungry I’d help myself reach my goal by gulping down diet pills, which are really speed and then I was walking around like a zombie and my high school teacher finally thought something was up and called my mom.
And told her she thought I was abusing drugs.
Which, essentially, was true. But I wasn’t abusing drugs because I wanted to get high. I was abusing diet pills aka drugs because I wanted to get “skinny”.
I wanted to be in the “cool” group and wear the Guess and Jordache jeans (REALLY??).
I wanted to be in the “cool” group and date the cute guys.
What I ended up in was LOTS.OF.THERAPY.
I was in real trouble there for a while. Not “you’re grounded” trouble, but “you could die” trouble. My problem was not “cool”. No, not at all. My problem was life-threatening.
I cannot imagine what my parents went through.
They got me help. They stood by me. They watched while their little girl struggled with something they couldn’t begin to comprehend. 2 years of weekly individual therapy in a hospital setting. Fucking. Sucked.
Then the year of voluntary group therapy.
Then the year of living dangerously through a serious relapse when I got no help at all. I somehow managed to pull myself up by my too loose pants loops and eat a banana.
And I thought, “What the hell am I doing, crying in the middle of my kitchen floor, anxious that eating a banana is going to make me gain a pound?”
So I stopped.
And I got healthy. I ate better. I made exercise a part of my regular routine. I changed my life.
Actually, I saved my life.
Eating disorders are a strange thing: the issue isn’t really about the clothes, and it’s not about the boys. It’s about your feelings of self-worth. But when you are at an age where all people talk about are clothes and boys, you start thinking that’s all that matters and if you aren’t wearing the right clothes or aren’t the right “size”, you feel worthless. Crazy, huh?
What is crazy is when people say things such as,
“[We are] only interested in people with washboard stomachs….,”
regarding the people they want to market to.
Because, again, your misguided impressionable teenage minds feel validated that to be cool, you need to be a certain “size”.
This is what makes A & F dangerous. Because they are validating the thoughts of thousands of misguided and impressionable young girls that their looks and what they wear are what make them a “cool” person.
Notice that they don’t say “nice” or “caring” or “funny” or “smart” or “talented”. Just “cool”. And their version of “cool” only invites a small selection of people.
I went through years, YEARS, of therapy, to become convinced that I was better than the size on a pair of pants.
I compromised my health. I let my body shape determine what kind of person I was.
I let “cool” become a “size”.
I don’t want that for my beautiful daughters. I want them to see themselves as beautiful because, well, they are.
I want them to see “cool” as being kind and never thinking that someone is good or bad based on what size pants they wear.
I want my daughters to be accepted for who they are, not for what shape or size they are.
Of course I want them to be healthy. Of course I don’t want them to be overweight because that comes with a whole host of medical concerns including diabeties, high cholestoral and high blood pressure.
But to have their worth determined by their pant size.
So to you Mr. Jeffries- consider your reign at A & F on borrowed time. Because your message is NOT okay. Your message is NOT acceptable. These beautiful girls DO. NOT. ACCEPT. YOUR. MESSAGE.