Sunday, May 19, 2013

Abercrombie and Fitch: Compromising Principles

Anyone who thinks body image has only become an issue recently obviously didn't live during the time when corsets were almost a requirement for women. Anyone who thinks that only larger people have body image problems has never been skinny.

I remember talking to my grandmother about this twenty years ago. I was 16, 5'4” with DD breasts, and only weighed 90lbs. I was complaining because I had a hard time finding bras that fit. Actually, I couldn't find *any* that fit right. Bra companies just didn't make bras that fit a 32DD. (They barely make them for 34DD. And don't get me started on nursing bras!) She told me that I was shaped like her mother-in-law. Apparently, my great-grandmother had been skinny all her life. By the time she died, she weighed over 300 pounds. She was so happy to have some weight on her that once she finally started gaining weight, she just ate and ate to continue gaining weight. She died 34 years ago. Obviously, body image issues are not a new thing.

Less than two years later, I had to get a weight waver to join the Navy because, at 93 lbs, I was 3 pounds underweight. The Navy wanted to be sure I didn't have an eating disorder. I did not. I did have a crazy run away metabolism that I passed on to two of my three children. In bootcamp, I had another girl say to me, “How do you even walk around on those sticks?” I'll never forget that. I was flabbergasted. Why would you say something like that to someone?

My older brother was even skinnier than me. At the age of 19, he had a 24 inch waist and a 36 inch inseam. Looking back, I have no idea how my mother found pants that fit him. I'm pretty sure she didn't.

You see, my oldest two children wear sizes 27x32 and 24x32 respectively. The older one always goes up a waist size because he has large thighs and doesn't like to feel constricted. The younger one can only buy clothes at one store, and he's growing at a rate of about an inch a month right now, mostly in his legs, so I can't look forward to the fall.

This brings me to the reason for this post. Our family took a cruise in late April. I forced my older two children to buy pants that fit. We searched high and low to find a pair of khakis that would fit my 15 year old son. We finally found a pair at Abercrombie and Fitch. That's right. The pariah of stores. Of course, this was before all the hoopla, but when we got back, I planned to buy more pants for him. And suddenly, I have to decide whether to financially support a store that has openly stated they don't want fat people shopping there or not have clothes that fit my children. And believe you me, I would prefer to pay less for my growing boys' clothing!

It didn't take me long to make my decision. You see, other manufacturers, stores, and brands take an active stance on size every day. They don't come out and say, “You're not a large enough share of the market for us to make clothes for you,” but they sure do live it. If only a few brands would make things for skinny kids, I could make the choice to shop elsewhere.

But then something happened inside my head. I started thinking about Chic Fil A, Pro Life emergency room doctors, religious institutions mandating that no tubal libations will be performed in their hospitals, and businesses refusing to take part in gay weddings. I wondered what would have happened had Chic Fil A been the only grocery store in the area, instead of one fast food chain among many. I wondered whether or not a doctor would be held liable for not performing a life saving abortion if they were they only doctor at an emergency room. I wondered about the many babies that would be aborted because a religious institution refused to allow their mothers to have tubals while they were in the hospital to have a c-section. And I wondered what makes it okay for a person to make a business decision based on a religious belief, but not a personal dislike.

Suddenly, I realized that I could not shop at Abercrombie and Fitch anymore. I will have to take my business to our local tailor. I will not compromise my principles because it is the easy thing to do. Now, if only some of the other manufacturers would start making clothes for skinny people, I'd be happy. Not everyone is big *and* tall. Some are just tall. Maybe I need to talk to some basketball players.

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