The Interwebs have been in a tizzy the last few weeks after comments made in 2006 by Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries resurfaced, and they have been on the Twitter-Facebook-Reddit media circuit.
It hasn’t been pretty.
Then, an apology in the loosest sense of the word was issued by the CEO, and it was met with great admiration and acceptance by the social media community. If you believe that, then I have some property to sell you in Florida. It was rage on a major scale. The Mozilla Firefox fox turned red.
But, all of the angry comments, the hate mail, the backlash, and the “open letters” in response to Jeffries words are forgetting one thing: this is letting him win. He is winning! We are talking about his brand, and even through the apology, he’s smug. Aren’t the non-cool kids always jealous of the cool kids? That’s what this is, a bunch of non-cool kids begging to be let into the club. Sure, they say they don’t want in, but what they want is inclusion. They’re screaming, “Market to us! We’re here, too!”
I’m telling you right now– stop giving a damn.
It’s not easy, and I’m guilty of it, too. After I read his comments, I felt the sting; that familiar sting I remember as an 11-year-old girl who read at the lunchroom table while wearing her overalls. We were required to sit boy-girl-boy-girl back then, and it was just easier to fall into a story than try to get invited into a conversation. It’s the same sting I felt as senior in high school when someone asked me incredulously, “YOU have a date to prom?”
And it’s the same feeling I had the other day when I put on a tank top and swim skirt to go play with my daughter in her kiddy pool. I looked in the mirror at my still-flabby tummy, my un-toned arms, and my white legs, and felt ashamed. Still not cool. Still fat. And Mike Jeffries words rang in my ear.
No. You don’t get to do that, sir.
I’m 26-years-old. I have been married for almost seven years to a kind, caring, loving and selfless man, who is the husband and most amazing father a girl could ask for. I am the mommy of the most beautiful, almost-two-year-old on the planet, with shining eyes, an inquisitive spirit, and a contagious giggle. I walked the stage for my degree last week.
I don’t need to be cool. I don’t need to be thin. I don’t need to feel ashamed that my body and image don’t fit the mold for whatever idealistic image he wants to get rich off. I sure as heck don’t need to worry about what I’m going to look like while I sit in a purple, plastic kiddie pool in the backyard and have a fun, summer day with my daughter. I should be ashamed the thought ever entered my mind.
It was while sitting there with her, watching her splash, laugh, and toddle over to the slide that I realized I can’t pass on my own body image issues to my daughter, and if that’s the case, that means I can’t let the words of some jerk I will never meet affect me. He doesn’t get to tell me who is cool or uncool. He doesn’t define anyone. He owns a clothing store.
I define myself. I am my own brand of cool. And right now, I am her role model.