Last week, like most dads, I spent a great deal of time with the kids looking for that perfect gift for Mom – at every store in Northern Virginia. We always take in the sights. You know, looking at all the festive sweatshirts, drinking some peppermint coco, admiring the decorations, seeing in-the-flesh exploitation of barely legal men and women marketing expensive clothes. Wait, you didn’t have that same experience?
While we were shopping at Fair Oaks mall, standing in the doorway of Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) were two scanty-clad barely young adults. Now, being that I am the Director for Child Protection and Safety for the Diocese of Arlington, my first instinct and question concerned the ages of the young men and women modeling the latest A&F fashion. To A&F’s credit, they were over 18 Does 18 count as young adult?
The problem is that the young man in just a bathing suit and young woman in a mini/micro skirt were “selling it.” First of all: Dude! It was 30 degrees outside and really, you’re no Chris Hemworth! And young lady, with your skimpy clothes, were the pig-tails and lollipop really necessary – gives the wrong impression (Okay, let’s give the benefit of the doubt to A&F)? Have I ever mentioned that I used to be the Executive Director of Exodus Youth Services which was a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to working with the poorest of the poor in Washington, DC? Why mention this? Well, I worked with a number of ladies of the evening and their….supervisors. They wore more clothes. Even in the summer.
What was A&F selling? Not clothes. The exploitation of these young men and women was saddening. A few years ago, one of the young adults I know was targeted for recruitment based on her very thin, blond, blue-eyed appearance. She is pretty but my question to her was this, “If you are concerned about men viewing and treating you as an object, why take a job that requires for them not to see you the person?” Her reply, “It’s good money and I am broke.” Ugh!
As I have mentioned in the past, this side of glory, we need a certain amount of clothing so that we are able to see the person not just their body. We are an integrated whole in which the material or exterior is designed to reveal the spiritual or interior. My inside voice, it wanted to ask the Manager on duty if the person came with the clothing. But alas, temperance and a prudential judgment overtook me…and probably saved my job.
What does this say about a society that in which the retail stores need to sell kids in order to generate a sale? Do not get me wrong, A&F has always been in trouble concerning this issue. I just never thought I would have a live mannequin in my neighborhood.
Best line ever of that evening? My seven year looks at the young man and woman and says, “That’s dumb! Aren’t they cold? Hope Santa brings them some clothes.”