Modern Western society (defined in this context as being North America, the UK, and likely Australia and New Zealand as well) has become obsessed with the idea of inclusivity, or the quality or state of being inclusive. Thousands upon thousands of people get spun about the idea of anyone being excluded from anything, and so take it upon themselves to march against exclusion in modern society.
Beyond the obvious issue that we’re going to such lengths to protect and shelter our children that we’re building an entire generation with no emotional resiliency or ability to overcome any kind of adversity, all I want to do is ask these people who crusade against exclusivity, “Why do you care?”
Apparently, the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch is a Grade-A douche. To anyone who has been anywhere near an A&F store, this can’t be much of a surprise. However, it’s pissing people off left and right that A&F doesn’t make women’s clothes in large sizes, and that it’s part of their corporate strategy to hire exclusively young, sexually attractive men and women (Source). Again, why do you care?
I personally hate A&F. When I was at prep school and those hideous A&F cargo pants and plaid shirts were all the rage, I actively swore never to place either on my body. Guess what? I didn’t. And I agree that hiring a young woman born without an half an arm and then forcing to work exclusively in the back where she wouldn’t be seen is truly heinous.
But is moral indignation really the answer? I mean, personally, I find it hilarious and somewhat fitting that “a leaked company email revealed that employees at the chain’s Milan store were made to perform military-style exercises, such as push-ups and squats, in order to maintain their toned physiques.” Ultimately, I choose not to shop there. And if you have a problem with their corporate ideology or marketing practices, well, you can choose to do the same. And eventually, if enough consumers do the same, the company will be forced to either change its practices, or it will go out of business. It’s rather simple.
Instead, people get on soap boxes about how A&F “should” make clothes for all shapes and sizes. Why can’t a company serve a niche demographic? Why must they build something for everyone? It’s entirely their right to only make clothes for a certain demographic. All of Under Armour’s male models an muscular, powerful athletes with low body fat percentages. Does that mean UA needs to develop a line for chunky, hefty men also? So why do you care that A&F features skinny, pretty people in their stores and designs their clothes for said people? Attempting to force them to include everyone just makes you look insecure and childish. They’re actually doing their competitors a favor and leaving large percentages of the consumer market untapped. Why not start up the company that fills that big hole and steal sales from them? Fashion is notoriously fucked up and vain, so why are so many people horrified and offended when the truth is revealed? There are thousands of companies, brands, and labels out there on the market. Stop pulling your hair out over this one and just shop somewhere else.
Greg Plitt is one of the most prominent male fitness models on the planet. Should I complain that he’s sets “unrealistic” standards for young men, that his physique makes me feel less adequate and manly, and therefore advertising companies shouldn’t use him?
Similarly, what about Melanie Iglesias? Should she be banned from modeling because she features an “unrealistic” physique likely out of reach to most women?
I would argue, “No,” in both cases. The greater issue is insecurity and emotion. No one likes feeling “left out.” They get upset when they’re told they don’t fit in to certain demographics. They feel shame when they’re told they’re too fat, too skinny, or not perfect. Well, grow the fuck up. It is not the job of any model, company, government, or person to make you feel better about yourself. If you’re insecure about the way you look, do something about it. And instead of trying to fit in to certain cliques or groups, go find the ones that suit you. Part of life is coming to grips with the fact that you’re imperfect, that life is unfair, and that there will be people stronger, faster, better looking, and better paid than you. You have two options. The first, you can act like a sore loser and whine about it. The second, you can strive to accomplish all you can with what you’ve got, and blaze your own trail, or find like-minded individuals and stop worrying about the rest of it.
All through high school, I felt I didn’t fit in because I listened to house and trance, and all the other American kids listened to Top 40 and hip-hop. Did I force myself to start listening to their shit, or whine that school dances didn’t play any electronic music and were therefore discriminatory? Hell no. I went and hung out with an international crew that included a Mexican, a Jordanian, a couple Turks, a cute Spanish girl, and some a German. Why? Because we all dug BT and Sasha and Massive Attack and Nick Warren. In the end, it worked out OK.
All of this boils down to an unwillingness to address problems head on, to accept responsibility for your decisions and actions. Blaming the media, the fashion industry, or whatever you feel like blaming doesn’t change that fact that deep down you’re unhappy with yourself. Your lack of self-confidence and self-worth is the problem, not A&F. You feel as though you’re doing good by crusading against said industries, when in fact it’s all just a selfish effort to hide from a personal pain. Want to do good? Make the changes that will make you happy with yourself. Be a strong role model for your kids and peers by being the kind of person you want to be around. Stop trying to shelter, limit, force, and protect yourself or others from the harshness of life. Instead of trying to be a dam, blocking everything, be a rock within the fast current, smooth and hard, and let the rest of it go, let it flow over and around you.
It’s better that way.