Wednesday, May 22, 2013

THE STIGMA OF HIGH FASHION AND HOW IT AFFECTS Y/A and TEENS ...

As most of you all know I try to keep things light and positive on my blog. BUT, on Monday, I had stopped by my blogger pal, Sheri Larson at Writer's Alley... Well, her post FLOORED ME.  "How Social Attitudes Affect Y/A Literature ..." Please hop over and see what Sheri has to say, it's an eye opener!

Basically she states about that Abercrombie and Fitch stated they don't want "model-type" kids to buy their clothing. A ban?! As a former fashion model, I am APPALLED! I never did agree with fashion's INSANE quest for anorexic proportions for young girls, especially since ALL PHOTOS are altered. In my day it was airbrushing, today it's photoshoping... but the bottom line is THESE PEOPLE DON"T look like that in person. EVERYTHING is altered. Kids and ANYONE who has kids, need to understand this. STAGE mom's, IN PARTICULAR, need to know this. But that is ANOTHER post.

Back to Abercrombie ... Imagine, originally an affluent, sports clothing line created for the middle-aged elite, altering their views to THIS?! When they reformatted "their look" a decade or so ago, I was like WHOA.. Okay. But then again, their sloping sales needed a boost somewhere, so why not splash half naked ripped boys. It worked.

But to BAN teens that are not on the A-list... That is WRONG on SO MANY levels.

Sheri also points out a faux pas from Starbucks as well. Admitting they wish traditionally married people need to stay home.... WHAT?! ARE you al bugging out?! I know I did. How ridiculous is this statement. I am ALL FOR appreciation for alternative lifestyles acceptance, but targeting ANY group is just plain WRONG ... AGAIN.

How does this affect Y/A or even m/g? Think about it ... of course it does! How many y/a books have you read with two ripped boys hot at after the sexy teen girl? Uh, like 99%. I mean, that's what sells. Right?  But is it right? Are we compromising our values and "selling out?"

Okay, I myself an a bit guilty in my second novel... an edgy contemporary. Yes, my teen is ripped. BUT he is average height and is beyond flawed. The second male is blind... so you still can put some of these elements in your writing, but it is more important to have a STORY.

Sheri gives some AMAZING examples of the non, a-list kids/teens. They are WONDERFUL Here are just a few ...

"
  • the teen boy, who wears hammy-downs from his cousin because he works two jobs to help his family buy oil for the winter?
  • or what about the sophomore girl, whose eyeglasses are too big for her face but her parents can't afford to buy her more expensive ones?
  • maybe it's the high school senior unable to afford college or simply feels that school is not his/her thing?
  • could it be the teenage cashier or bus-boy, or babysitter? "

Lord only knows how often I have battled with my weight. And it wasn't until I slimmed down at sixteen did I get discovered to model. And it happened again when I had gained over fifty pounds when I began writing four years ago. Talk about being invisible. NO company should EVER discriminate against ANYONE. 

According to Sheri, A&F is only making clothing up to a certain size, only wanting a "certain type" to sport their clothing. (Shaking head at this one). An overweight person has ENOUGH prejudice to deal with on so many other levels, why add insult to injury. A person should have the opportunity to wear whatever they wish. This is a free country. 

I know we have all see fashion No No's, but do we really have the right to judge anyone? I know I have been guilty of it in the past, but I would never hurt anyone's feelings. With me it's more of an aesthetic thing. Something else would look more appealing on that person. And please don't get me started on the hanging pants thing... How many more years do we have to put up with that? Not only does it look ridiculous but these boys can barely walk right.  Low hung jeans are hot ... below the butt is NOT.

Getting back to writing. How many y/a books have been banned with dealing with "heated' issues? Too many... I am curious to see how fast my novel gets banned when the time comes for it to be published. (Soon... I hope. Lol)

Sheri is so passionate about this subject and frankly, I think all y/a authors should be... So what do you think? 

Here are the links to the article and video.... Let me know. After viewing, Please leave a comment.

Certainly something to muddle over on this HUMP day....  





Here's an article I just came across from another blogger. (Opposing Views) "Plus-size Blogger creates Mock Abercrombie and Fitch Ad," by Sarah Rae Fruchtnict. (Cudos Sarah!)


                                    

38 comments:

  1. I read her post. A lot to think about. Their announcement impacts a lot of things.
    The Starbucks thing? I just shake my head. How quickly things change.

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  2. Aloha Michael,

    (See, I remember your name again :)~
    Sometimes I think companies get too big for their britches (as they say in Ireland) that they forget how they became big in the first place.

    Regards the whole ripped teen thing, I'm about to begin my first fiction novel (thank you, Jesus) and I've never considered any of the main characters being perfect.

    I'm not, so why should they, the cheeky buggers :)

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  3. I read Sheri's post too and so agree. I can't understand why clothing stores and coffee shops want to dictate who their customers are and make the ones they don't like sound bad.

    And the whole emphasis on thin girls everywhere is such a bad example for teens. You're right. Most kids and adults are not that "hot" so in YA novels, commercials, TV, and movies, it shouldn't be the only thing we show.

    And I have to say that I'm appalled at the clothes for girls. The tops are so skimpy and the shorts so short. I know because I have a teenage daughter and don't like how it forces her to dress.

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  4. I also shake my head at the Starbucks thing and I also read her post. This is a great follow up to it and I am going to Tweet it and put it on Facebook!

    Also, 3 Ups is a go! Your "Upee" is Tyrean Martinson over at http://tyreanswritingspot.blogspot.com/

    No need to rush in giving Tyrean your ups. Whenever you can is fine :D

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  5. As a teen, I struggled with my weight. Sadly, kids were cruel because of my size. Food was my comfort.

    Years later, I lost that weight. I even modeled and acted for a while. But I was still considered fat in a size 8. So I dropped more weight to be a size 6.

    I blame my crazy dieting for the autoimmune disease I now deal with. Diet soda and prepackaged protein bars is not healthy.

    Good post!

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  6. The A&F CEO appears to be a complete moron. He continues to put his foot in his mouth. Why any company would alienate a group makes no business sense. I hadn't heard that bit about Starbucks. Yet another reason to avoid their coffee.

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  7. Michael, I am honored you even mentioned me in this post; humbled, really. Thank you. Thank you for helping me bring this to the forefront of a literary discussion.

    For me, the real discussion (at least what I wanted to shed light on) is not so much about corporations attitudes and actions, but how we as writers decide to include these attitudes in our stories. Do we let them gear our stories in certain directions or do we go against the grain. If we choose the latter, what could be the repercussions? How do we remain true to ourselves, bringing to light real issues that move us, without alienating certain groups, etc...? Or should we aim to cause a stir? Just something to think about while we write, especially for those of us who influence tweens/teens.

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  8. If they want to market to that tiny percent of people who are thin and perfect good luck to them. But I'll certainly never buy A&F and the more their crappy attitude is spread the less likely anyone else will either.

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  9. Such a great follow up post to Sherri's. Thank you. This is a real problem.

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  10. Hugs Michael!!! Totally agree with you. I have friends who come from all walks of life- gay, straight, and so straight and polly perfect they wouldn't say poo. And you know what? I love them all. I respect what they value and I don't try to change them.

    God made us. He alone will judge us and until I can walk on water, I'll leave just love my neighbor like I was told to do. Even if they own a starbucks and find out I'm traditional and don't want me in the place.
    (I had a gay friend in high school, we'd drive around ad he'd yell "breeders" at all the straight couples...don't know how that fits in the conversation, but I always thought it was funny as heck!)

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  11. I think about this a lot, especially because my daughter is going into sixth grade next year at a new school. She's so nervous and she keeps telling me she needs to "look perfect" on her first day. I asked her what that meant to her and her response was "photoshopped perfect" which was like a dagger in my heart. So, yeah, we have some work to do. But I feel like I'm swimming upstream against the downpour of societal messages to young girls.

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  12. The Starbucks thing is a little weird--they are trying to hard to be tolerant and missed the mark to the left instead of hitting it.

    The Abercrombie thing, though, enrages me. I was a perfectly trim freshman in high school, wearing size 11 because I am 5'11" and even WITHOUT A&F nonsense, being three sizes bigger than my friends put me into a spiral of diet/gain stuff that has ruined my entire metabolism for life. If somebody had just been promoting 'being fit' with exercise, I think it all could have been avoided, but I was terrified--the teen brands at the time didn't MAKE bigger than 11.

    Have you seen Ellen's clip on this? It's FABULOUS. She says 'to all the kids. What you look like on the outside does not make you cool. It's what you are on the inside. I wore a mullet and parachute pants for years, and I'm doing alright" (or something very like that. It's brilliant.

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  13. I'm glad I've never bought anything from A & F, especially after this fiasco. Love Ellen Degeneres's response to them, too!
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  14. I think it's sad, teenagers have so much going on at that point in their lives. They're setting the foundation of who they will be. And then people targeting them like this. Either teaching them to be elitist or damaging their self respect and making them think they will never be good enough.

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  15. Great post! I will never allow my kids to shop at A & F.

    Heading over to read Sheri's post...

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  16. I don't know how I missed the Starbucks thing.

    But yeah, it's not good for a company--or anyone--to say, "You're not good enough to be here." I don't have a problem with companies manufacturing what they want and in what size they want, but the "why" is where it's just wrong. *shakes head*

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  17. Don't shop at A+F or Starbucks and don't intend to.

    mood

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  18. My lead in a NA novel is plump. I try to steer away from the perfection thing, even in body image in my books. Getting bombarded with perfection is annoying. It's nice to read about regular people. They can have interesting lives and get the girl or guy, too. Why not?

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  19. A and F has appalling views. Very destructive and I hope they fall flat on their face from the backlash. Starbucks too. It's all ridiculous.

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  20. I believe the backlash from this is going to make a statement heard all around clothing industries. At least I hope so. I read about this last week on fb. I'm still flabbergasted. And Starbucks? Wow.

    Bravo for posting this. And Sheri raises some valid points.

    Just wow....

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  21. I'm honestly surprised that the CEO's statement is catching fire now when he said those hateful words years ago.

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  22. Sometimes I wonder how the people running those companies rose to their level of leadership because they say lots of things they obviously haven't thought through. Of course, politicians do it all the time also.
    I'm glad none of my children were ever in the 'need to wear a brand' thing.

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  23. The only time i visit Starbucks is when I travel and it's the only option. Now that I read that they don't actually want my business, I'll have to find an alternative. Who needs their sweet milky coffee anyhow?

    We are told 60% of Aussies are obese and I guess it's worse in the States. However, I do question this as I see very few obese people. Are they all hiding at home? Anyway, my point, if such a large sector of a population is overweight, where are they going to buy their clothes?

    Thoughtful post, Michael, I oppose discrimination in all of its forms. What is our society coming to?

    (Are you going to get a post up this weekend? I was so looking forward to it...)

    Denise

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  24. Limiting one's customer base is a risky thing. I imagine A&F isn't the first company to consider that. And isn't there a store called 3*5*7?

    That's the first I've heard about Starbucks. Need to take a vanload of married friends and go contaminate one of their stores.

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  25. Michael, you make a lot of great points on a controversial (and seemingly never-ending) subject. I'm far from fashionable but I don't understand why any company that claims to be in the business of making money would go out of their way to alienate a potential customer base (I said the same thing about Chick-Fil-A)

    It's one thing to put attractive people in your ads and suggest 'buy this product and you will look cool and sexy'; quite another to outright tell them 'you will NEVER be cool and sexy and we don't want you as a customer.'

    I've never liked the stick-thin model look (give me a girl like Jennifer Lawrence any day!) not just b/c I don't find it aesthetically appealing but b/c knowing what those girls (and guys) put themselves through to achieve that look kinda frightens me. But I dont think enough has been made about how impressionable the ripped, chiseled man-hunks in ads and movies can influence young guys into dangerous habits. This one ep of Grey's Anatomy stuck in my head b/c this seemingly normal kid ended up in the hospital on a steroid OD b/c 'girls only want guys with these insane bodies' SMH.

    And yeah, I've noticed it all over YA fiction, too. Of the last 30 books I've read I'd say 28 of them made some reference to a guy's physique being 'built' 'chiseled' 'ripped' etc. and at least three had mentioned a girl's body as being 'toned' 'defined' 'muscled' etc. The two MC's in my WiP are athletic *but* throw cancer/chemo in the mix and it becomes clear that looks aren't everything.

    Sorry for the long comment. I really enjoy your blog and don't get to visit as much as I'd like. Kinda making up for lost time I guess :-)

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  26. I was surprised at this, too. Not that that's how they feel, but that they said it. They've been hinting at it for years.

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  27. From what I've read, the Starbucks comment was never made and what he did say was taken way out of context.

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  28. It does not surprise me one bit that A&F have done this. they 've been doing surreptitiously for decades, whether it's fat kids or poor kids, they only have ever wanted high class, beautiful people to wear their clothes. Designers do it all the time. Would Chloe make a size 18? Or Calvin Klein a big and tall? Hell no! They just don't say it overtly. However, A&F took it too far with their we do't want homeless people or charity people wearing their brand. And saying right out loud in black and white that they do not want fat people wearing their clothes. It's one thing to just make up to a certain size, quite another to add further insult by pointing it out directly. They might as well have their board of directors walk down the street calling people names.

    Can't remark on the Starbuck's comment, but somehow I think that was some religious wingnut saying Starbuck's said that rather than Starbuck's actually saying it. The same way these zealots seem to think that separation of church and state is a war on Christians everywhere.

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  29. I don't care how Survivor-ready my body ever gets, I am WAY too cheap to pay Abercrombie prices.

    As for the Starbucks thing, there is definitely a war brewing under the surface of this country against traditional lifestyles and beliefs - which is why I love posts like this pointing out the hypocrisy of the situation. Well done. Off to visit Sheri now.

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  30. We are bombarded with images of physical perfection, which is over-rated...
    What is physical perfection anyway? An impossibly super-slim anorexic body? Says who? A minority of the population...

    Writer In Transit

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  31. I read Shari's post too. Its a shame how the media shapes our children's views of themselves, and others.

    ........dhole

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  32. It's clear A&F are trying to create a cachet for their brand in hopes of turning the tide on two years of declining sales. Unfortunately, their stock performance suggests this moron's announcement may be helping them do exactly that. This policy injures not only the kids excluded by A&F's selective marketing, but it also instills a false sense of reality in "A-listers," teaching them their looks and wallet are more important than who they are.

    I think as writers we have to portray A&F's skewed thinking as reality, because it is what it is. But I also think we're obligated to use our writing as a platform to show (not preach) that disrespect—for any reason and in any guise—is not simply wrong but immoral.

    VR Barkowski

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  33. I read about this in a few places. I'm no fashion guy. When I was raising my daughters on my own they always looked nice, but I don't know how fashionable they were. They're all adults on their own now and I think they are prudent shoppers more than they are trend shoppers. My youngest likes to shop at thrift shops.

    People need to be judged by more than looks only, but there is that crowd out there so there are the businesses that cater to them.

    Lee
    A Faraway View

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  34. ...helluva controversy this has manifested into. Proud to say that my closet is stocked and loaded primarily with...American Eagle ;)

    Great post, Michael.

    El

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  35. I'm sure when I was a teenage pasty-white stick, covered in freckles and sporting a frizzy red afro, Abercrombie would have loved to have me represent them. Although you could only get clothes in black and white back then...

    Good to get passionate about things once in a while!

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  36. Hi Michael - your thoughts seem to be endorsed around the media - and A+F's results have been poor - perhaps they'll change their tune.

    It's good you're highlighting their ridiculous limitations .. Hilary

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  37. Hadn't heard about Starbucks- I don't go for the elitist schtick so I'll be avoiding them. TOo bad too because I like their Peach Lemonade green tea. *shrugs. I'm back blogging my friend, (I think) unless things turn uglier. (which they could.

    Thanks for checking in on me!

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