Abercrombie & Fitch, as everyone well knows, is a clothing line targeted and marketed to young'uns with SEX on the brain. SEX SEX SEX. Their catalogues are softcore porn, their clothing models are often barely clothed, they staff shirtless "greeters" in their stores which happen to be as brightly lit as your average bathhouse. None of that irks me, however. Not remotely. I'm no Puritan. What bothers me is the overwhelming Whiteness of it all. White White White. White folks all around.
The Whiteness of Abercrombie & Fitch is well known enough that even Family Guy calls it out:
It's a joke. Only it's not a joke as it seems the company itself doesn't give a fuck. "Aberzombies" has even officially become a well-known and oft-used parody name.
Who wears Abercrombie & Fitch? Well, millions of people clearly and it remains very popular with the younger gays and the not-so-young gays who still desperately want to look like Young Gays. It's pseudo-wannabe "jock" wear. Shirts that proclaim "VARSITY!" in big old letters across the chest. Yeah. Varsity........riiiiiiight. Wearing that shirt that reads ABERCROMBIE across the front, in letters as big as your face, and VARSITY across the back is totally gonna make people think that you're a rough-and-tumble sports lover.
Their marketing is very specific - it's not just buying a shirt, it's buying into a very specific image - Privileged And White. Their clothes are not cheap. To wear them means you're a White With Money. For the gays it's clothing for those who are still under the delusion that wearing A&F makes one not only look like a Straight White Jock (note: it doesn't) but that it also makes one appealing to said Straight White Jocks....in a decidedly non-straight way. Clothing for gay people who want to look "straight" who don't realize that nothing looks gayer than what they just bought at A&F - ensembles that embody what a clueless gay person thinks about straight people.
You all know how I feel about this bullshit culture of "no fats femmes asians or blacks."
Well, here are the latest promotional photos from Abercrombie & Fitch's Black Friday sales.
Uh......right. Is "no fats femmes asians or blacks" their casting call motto? And before someone says "NO! There are totally some black and asian guys in there!" can we please be fucking honest? It's 2011 - sprinkling token minorities into the background, and grouping them together doesn't exactly count. That's like saying "No, there are TOTALLY black people in the film 'Steel Magnolias', they play the help and they don't have any lines." At least in the case of Steel Magnolias ithas the justification of being a very specific story about a very specific Southern White Experience. A&F? What's their excuse?
You can almost hear the voice of the Assistant Director saying "Wait! bring a black guy closer to the front! No, no not THAT close to the front!.... Just closER....yeah, ok good. Now put one more white boy in front of him. Ok, yeah. that's good. Now make sure those Asians in the back STAY in the back! Whew."
Concepts of beauty are Societal. They're not innate. Abercrombie & Fitch continue their legacy of worshipping Whiteness and telling people that White is what is beautiful. And not just white, a very specific square-jawed superbuffed version of white. Am I saying it's wrong to like white square-jawed adonis-built men? No. Not at all. I'm sayingit's more than a little disconcerting to see a sea of bonafide clones and then the most condescendingly sprinkled pockets of "colour" in the mass of cracker.
This sends out very specific messages: this is how you have to look to be beautiful. Incredibly muscled, square-jawed, and white. WHITE. A few of you non-whites might slip through the cracks and find yourself considered beautiful as long as you gym-buff that body to such a degree that you can effectively make one forget your ethnicity and focus instead on your body-fascist approved physique.
*le even bigger sigh*
This is the reason that people don't understand why their racial/ethnic preferences have a societal root and not an innate one. All the images of beauty and power and sexiness that we are culturally sold worship the Altar of Whiteness. And even when they get called out on it, repeatedly over the decades, they see no reason to change their ways. Why should they? They're not losing any money and money is all that matters. Right? To some, I suppose.
In a world where diversity is the only Universal Constant, and in 2011, it's just beyond depressing to see that not only is Beauty one thing (and one thing only) to a great many people, but the companies responsible for promoting that idea and concept have no intention whatsoever in actually being inclusive to diversity in their marketing. Not only do they not care about marketing to non-whites, they don't care about what their white-focused marketing does to everyone, white or otherwise, in our culture.
If I could ask Abercrombie & Fitch a favour it would be this - Can you please be more inclusive and celebratory of actual diversity in your advertising, your energy and your outlook? You are looked at by young people, you are indeed shaping the way that they see themselves and others. Be aware of that, and be responsible with this power. Beauty comes in many colours, shapes, sizes and demeanors.
Just released is this photo from Abercrombie & Fitch Singapore. Yeah, Singapore. And yet they still find a way to favour whiteness. *sigh*