...I'm not cool and that's OK
I've never really cared about things deemed "cool." Cool kids never really impressed me; I would have much rather hang out with an imaginary friend than someone whose characteristics fell under the heading of cool.
Cool guys have, admittedly in the past, won my attention, but deep down, I knew I was in the presence of a toolbag, and I was probably only embracing the attention because, spoiler alert, I'm a girl, and girls like attention. Guys worried about being cool are always out to prove something or uphold some kind of image linked to their desire to impress everyone with things that aren't very impressive in an effort to mask the lack of actual substance of their character. I would much sooner become absorbed in someone who knows how to have a good time without being bothered by earning cool points.
The word "cool" even sounds weird in my inner dialogue as I write this.
I remember when I was younger and my mom would use the word "cool," usually in front of some of my friends, and it would cause an immediate lump in my throat and drop in my stomach. Humiliation city.
Funny thing is, now, that's how it sounds coming out of my mouth if I use it for its generally accepted meaning, which I rarely, if ever, do.
The definition of cool has changed over time so what it meant is far from what it means.
It is purely subjective unless we're talking about temperature.
According to Wikipedia, "cool was once an attitude fostered by rebels and underdogs, such as slaves, prisoners, bikers and political dissidents, etc., for whom open rebellion invited punishment, so it hid defiance behind a wall of ironic detachment, distancing itself from the source of authority rather than directly confronting it."
Not so much anymore.
Now, I utilize it solely as a tool for sarcastic comment when something isn't even remotely awesome.
When someone does something like cancel plans on me or something else rotten, I usually retort with, "You're cool," which kind of makes me immature, but that's always been fine with me. Sometimes, if I don't have a clever comeback when someone takes a jab at me, "You're cool" works just fine to drive my point of "you're really not cool at all" home.
Similarly, if someone brags to me about something ad nauseam, I usually, when I can get a word in, use and extended "cooooool" in response and many times I think they are completely oblivious to my insincerity.
Cool points are worthless in modern society.
Driving my point even further home, I recently stumbled upon an article being heavily circulated as a result of Internet resuscitation - a phenomenon where something mattered at one point when it happened but then took on a new life when it snowballed down the road through the power of Internet sharing.
In a 2006 interview with Salon Magazine, Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries stated, "In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," he told [Salon.com]. "Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."
I couldn't agree more.
By my definition of cool - something that is barely special at all - Jeffries statement is incredibly accurate.
The brand is appealing, for the most part, to those who cannot think for themselves who fear individuality so they buy into the idea that if all the cool kids are doing it, they should to.
I've expressed my disdain for various clothing stores responsible for the cookie-cutter effect wherein everyone looks mass produced with only slight differences aiding in telling one person from the next. You can hate on my Sal Val thrift shopping all you want, at least I'm not spending $80 on distressed jeans some poor soul in Bangladesh made while earning $38 a month.
These brands are sickening with their nonsense.
A little history
Abercrombie and Fitch is a clothing company that went bankrupt and was then acquired in 1988 by The Limited brand - remember The Limited of the 1990s? It was one of two reasons to go to the Columbia Mall, the other being the Benetton store to get a gym bag, a bottle of Colors perfume or an overpriced sweater for school picture day.
Perhaps those were weaker days of my existence when I started to worry about what others thought of what I wore. Thank God those days are long gone.
But anyway, A&F CEO Mike Jeffries was initially hired riding on his intentions of making the brand "sizzle with sex." It was to appeal to a preppy yet beachy crowd who either were or always had the desire to appear upscale.
Every brand needs branding. That is totally understandable, but by resorting to exclusionary tactics to attract what you consider to be an elite customer base, you're a terrible person.
Mike Jeffries is a terrible person.
He doesn't want kids who are uncool or "fat chicks" buying his clothing, a rule he makes sure is followed by excluding any size above a large in women's clothing - men's clothing goes up to 2XL, I believe, because you know, you have to speak to your beefcake audience. but any girl who can't fit into an already undersized large is an embarrassment to society.
Mike Jeffries is not all that and a bag of Middleswarth BBQ chips. I wouldn't even consider him attractive, so who is he to deem anyone not worthy of donning his overpriced garbage because of their looks? All I know is I'm not buying into anything a guy who looks like the love child of Gary Busey, who you may know for being bat-feces crazy, and Ron Perlman, of "Hellboy" fame, tells me.
See Mike, I can judge, too. I just have different rules. My rule is if someone is totally awful on the inside, the outside is fair game for ridicule.
Stereotyping the stereotype
I understand it's a stereotype to stereotype this brand, but I really can't help it. The Salon.com interview is just the tip of the rotten iceberg of things that come out of Jeffries' mouth. Take these quotes, for example, and try not to punch the paper or computer screen in the face after reading them:
Regarding being attractive: "It's almost everything. That's why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don't market to anyone other than that."
On barely being racially diverse: "I don't think we were in any sense guilty of racism, but I think we just didn't work hard enough as a company to create more balance and diversity. And we have, and I think that's made us a better company. We have minority recruiters. And if you go into our stores you see great-looking kids of all races."
I can't tell you to not buy these clothes. If that's your thing, fine. Just don't buy into or feed into ideals that suggest someone isn't good enough to wear something. If you want to wear a suit of armor everyday, be you a knight or a garbage man, you should have that luxury.
If you're onboard with me in thinking this company is not worth mere pennies let alone the prices they have the audacity to charge, there are a few things you can do.
There is a petition at change.org to stop Jeffries from telling teens they aren't beautiful and to make clothing available for teens of all sizes. Or, you can be a little more proactive, like Greg Karber, who, looking to readjust the Abercrombie and Fitch brand, documented on film his own tactic. Karber went to various Goodwill stores, bought up all the Abercrombie and Fitch clothing and gave it all it to homeless people on LA's notorious skid row. Even the homeless were reluctant to accept the clothing, something to which Karber speculated (in jest), "Perhaps they were afraid of being perceived as narcissistic date rapists."
That's the kind of activism I can get down with.
So, Mr. Jeffries, you can take the $68 doilies you're trying to pass off as crop tops and your $60 polo shirts and you can sleep on them along with your hate speech.
To you, I say, "No, thank you."
On the web: http://www.change.org/petitions/abercrombie-fitch-ceo-mike-jeffries-stop-telling-teens-they-aren-t-beautiful-make-clothes-for-teens-of-all-sizes
(Jenna Wasakoski, a News-Item editor, is a graduate of Von Lee School of Aesthetics and is certified as a professional makeup artist.)