#fitchthehomeless

In the last 12 hours this video has been sent to me several times, mostly with notes of ‘awesome, look at this!,’ while only one claiming Greg Karber (video maker) is missing the mark (that is actually a very mild way of paraphrasing). Here are my thoughts, if you care to read, if you’d prefer to stick with the awesome funny posts I won’t be mad and promise to [attempt to] make you laugh next time.

I have have always disliked Abercrombie & Fitch. Perhaps it’s because their price point was beyond what my parents would spend for me in high school or perhaps it has more to do with the fact that I spent half of high school dressed like I could actually stand on a surfboard for longer than 6 seconds and the other half dressed like Kurt Cobain. There’s also the chance that I simply have an aversion to smelling like a high school boy fresh from the showers every time I leave the store (I am a girl after all). Whatever the reason is, I was never a fan (sorry to the FOUR friends I have that have modeled for them….freaking L.A.). With the recent statements their CEO has made degrading women smaller than size large my dislike has turned into utter and complete hatred of the company. I am truly disgusted beyond belief. My point here being is please don’t mistake this post for having ANY support for their company. None. Zero. Zip.

While in full volatile hatred of their company and my immense love for homeless folks, it made sense why multiple friends sent me this youtube clip and urged me to take pictures and accompany them with the hashtag #fitchthehomeless if I saw any locals around town wearing A&F, assuming I would be totally ecstatic about the idea. “Homeless people are getting clothes AND Abercrombie & Fitch are being sent a message!” one exclaimed. Sure, I see their point and it is true. My problem however, lies in the undertones of the other message being sent; that homeless people are the lowest of the low and therefore adorning homeless people in their clothes is obviously the quickest, easiest way to piss off Mike Jefferies, CEO of A&F. Along with the implication that homeless people are needy and therefore should and will wear whatever crap we give them and be thankful. I won’t wear this garbage, but they should, in order to prove my point because they fit the proper stigma to do so.

I am not okay with this.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I pray to God that no one ever shops at Abercrombie & Fitch again. I will never ever ever (EVER!) support a company that assists in the self-esteem suicide our nation seems to be insistent upon being catalyst for, but I urge you to also think of the other ‘other’ here. The one that is a human being without a home, not a social cause or a means to an end. There are very few other people groups I can imagine social media being called upon to overtly typecast for the sake of tweets and instagram pictures, as this project does. Can you imagine how it would go over if you were to say “We’re going to pass out these clothes to Asian people only, to stick it to this guy! We’ll show him! He’ll be so pissed Asians are wearing his clothes!” I’m not sure that would go over too well. I certainly would not back it. So perhaps we should lend the same courtesy to the residents of Skid Row and consider donating things they may actually need…or even want.

Okay, phew. I will now hop off my soapbox. Dangit, it’s high. Can someone assist me with a ladder? Awesome, thanks. [drop the mic]

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54 Responses to #fitchthehomeless

  1. I had the same feeling of discomfort when I saw the video. Thanks for articulating it.

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  2. A says:

    I understand your point that it’s important to refrain from degrading homeless people, or putting ourselves “above” them. But, I think Mike Jeffries really does think of homeless people as the “lowest of the low,” and given his apparent egotism, callousness, and overall willingness to kick around everyone he perceives as his underlings, I think it really would piss him off to use his so-called elite product line to serve the poor. Since that seems to be the last thing on earth this pathetic shell of a man desires.

    Dang, I think I found my own soap box to stand on.

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    • Sure. I think that would piss Jefferies off more than most things and although I’d love to do that, doing so at the sake of another person does not sit well with me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I don’t mind sharing the soap boxed stage!

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  3. Connie says:

    I like your thoughts. When I saw this clip last night on the news I had the same reaction. I felt offended.

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    • I am so grateful to hear that, I had to run it by a few people first to make sure I wasn’t totally out of line in my thinking. I think the intentions are good, but the means at which he’s going about it make me very uncomfortable.

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  4. Kaitlin says:

    I love you. I actually worked for A&F in college (mostly because all of my friends did and I just wanted to be with them)…the longer I worked there the more I learned of their “branding” policies. I remember the debate of whether they should hire a perfectly qualified (and by the way “good looking” to their taste) manager…because he wore hearing aids. The day I was “privileged” to sit in on the “hot or not” polaroid line up of applicants for sales associates…I grabbed my things, walked out, and looked back. I’ll admit I have a few sweaters that I wore way back then…that they forced us all to buy. BUT I’ve never set foot in a store since…willingly…and certainly have not given them a cent since. They are repulsive. I agree with you. Using homeless people as a billboard to communicate this message if off base….shame on them.

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  5. Jonny says:

    Can you imagine how it would go over if you were to say “We’re going to pass out these clothes to Asian people only, to stick it to this guy! We’ll show him! He’ll be so pissed Asians are wearing his clothes!”

    ^THIS misses the point. Being Asian does not inherently mean you are in need of clothes, however, being homeless does. Homeless people benefit more from the clothes than you and I would, and thats the point. As for “using” homeless people? Obviously, they have the right to refuse the clothes being donated to them. Even if you were to make clear to them that you were donating the clothing to them because you hated the brand, hate their CEO, and he will pissed off if he sees a homeless person wearing his brand; do you really believe this would change their mind about accepting the clothes. You call it exploitation, I call it a purpose.

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    • Thanks for commenting and I definitely hear what you are saying, although I have to disagree. I understand that the homeless people have a right to refuse, but it’s hard for me to believe that most of them would accept the clothing and in turn, want to be photographed for the internet if they knew the impetus behind the ‘kind gesture.’ In fact, yesterday, while mulling it over in my head I asked a few of the folks I work with and it was unanimously agreed among them that they would not, as they stated, “be a walking billboard” for someone else’s agenda, especially when it means wearing clothes that are made by a “filthy company.”
      “We may be homeless,” one man stated, “but that doesn’t mean we want to wear “douchey” clothes to prove a point — what purpose would that serve, to dehumanize us even more than we already have been??”

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  6. Kate Sandy says:

    Your blog hit the mark. That video, though the intentions were understoofd, bothered me at my core. These are people. Not homeless people. Not bums. People. If they want IN on the joke so to speak so be it, but I don’t want them demoralized further.

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    • I agree, 100%! I don’t think anyone was purposefully trying to demoralize anyone, it’s easy to do based on previous experiences, upbringings, location, etc, but that doesn’t make it ok. Thanks for commenting!

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  7. Claudine says:

    I do see your point and am grateful that someone is looking at all aspects of this. Here is mine. The A-hole stated that he would rather burn the clothes that are defective than give them to the poor. He only wants the “beautiful” people to wear them. I think that if you went to Goodwill and gave the clothes to the homeless of your city, it would be awesome. I think if you film it and distribute it, it would be bad. I also think this will blow over in a couple of weeks and it will be business as usual. We, as a society, get whiplash very easily. At least some wonderful people that have no homes might get some clothes out of it.

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    • I totally agree, I would never argue that giving away clothes is a bad thing, if it weren’t for the fact that he states they are “douchey” and then not only films the giveaway, but is also prompting others to photograph them when they see them. That feels very exploitative to me.

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      • Eli says:

        By putting it all on youtube, he’s trying to make more people do what he did, stop the insulting “marketing message” of A&F, and also donate. If you want to raise awareness for any issue, the best way is to use the Internet. I, by the way, didn’t even know about the A&F CEO comments until now.

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      • I had the same feeling while watching the video, especially at the end when he encourages others to do the same. This person’s mission is to send a message to an offensive company/CEO but his message is no less offensive. He is absolutely exploiting homeless people and essentially stepping on others to raise himself up. I also don’t think that trying to piss off the CEO of A&F with this misguided stunt will change anything. If anything I think he is contributing to the problem.

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    • Victory says:

      Holy Toodle, so glad I clicked on this site first!

      Like

  8. I’m sad to say that one of my first thoughts after watching the video was whether or not it was a scam, instead of whether or not it’s wrong to use the homeless to make a point. I saw your parents FB shares of your post, so I’m glad I saw and read. Your words are spot on. Puts things into a better perspective for me.

    – Rachel (same name, not just writing yours for you) 🙂

    P.S. “Mic drop” = awesome.

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  9. Gabrielle Johnson says:

    In watching the video I was extremely unsupportive & uncomfortable with the idea , although looking at it from all sides I can totally see his initial intention behind it and can appreciate his efforts.

    I couldn’t agree with you more on this topic. It’s truly unfortunate that such a huge brand which could be used for good has become a catalyst for self hatred if you don’t fit into the “right category”… but Thank GOD for the “you”s out there that have chosen to speak up. I pray that A&F would acknowledge their error & choose to rebrand and embrace all sizes&shapes OORRR that companies like H&M would continue to embrace all sizes&shapes on major levels (i.e. their campaign with Jennie Runk) and that people would only flock to that positivity! There is so much negativity and so much hatred that already exists in the world.. we don’t need anymore. Especially that which is targeted to the younger generation which then only continues to breed negativity & self hatred. Enough already.

    Thanks for sharing & choosing to be such a light!

    xo

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  10. Kim says:

    Thank you for this post! You are completely correct. It’s painful reading through comments and seeing supports of this video.

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  11. Jane Johnson says:

    My gut tells me the intentions of this video are good, and I believe will inspire action on two fronts, one against A&F, and two shining a light on the plight and socially unjustness of the homeless. If it makes the viewer slightly uncomfortable as I think it was probably intended, it should not be directed at the messenger but perhaps self relection on how we can live in the richest nation in the world and have thousands of its citizens without a stable roof over their heads. Growth only takes place outside our comfort zones……and he did list 5 or 6 ways to take action after the video…. so I say kudos for doing something.

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    • Thanks for sharing you thoughts, Jane! I agree that I don’t believe that this video was made in malice, but I am not certain I can attest that any action is good action, not when it’s attempt is to protect one, at the cost of another.

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  12. Cathy says:

    Until I saw your blog on Facebook I had not seen the video. After viewing the video I have mixed emotions. Obviously the guy who made the video had good intentions, it just seems that he did not think it through to well. He used people to make a point. This is a sign of how easy it is to see people as objects and not as human beings made in the image of God. On the contrary, you see people who live outside as members of your community. They are real people with real lives and real souls. You spend your days interacting with people who are invisible to most of society. Your heart is involved and so when they are exploited, you feel exploited too. You are living in solidarity with your friends, who happen to live outside of the margins of our culture. Thank you for standing with them in love.

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    • I totally agree, I don’t think his intentions were bad. I DO think that as a society we need to rethink the way we see people; not as ‘those people,’ but as individual human lives that come together to make a community. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and encouragement!

      Like

  13. Meghan says:

    I felt very similarly. The homeless population is not a marketing campaign and there are items that they do need, not your high school skinny jeans. http://pentopapertherapy.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-homeless-do-not-need-your-old.html

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  14. Pastor Bob says:

    The part that bothered me the most on the video was the WAY he handed out the clothes. Randomly handing people clothes they did not choose, may not need, and probably did not fit is demeaning. No wonder they looked confused. For the sake of the dignity of the receiver, don’t use them as a prop and expect them to be grateful.

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    • YES! I was going to write about that too, but felt like I needed to keep it as short as I could. I suppose when you are giving someone clothes that you deem crap it doesn’t matter if they fit. (Was that too snarky? Chalk it up to my recently adopted no-coffee diet.)

      Like

  15. Yvonne in Vail says:

    I agree that the guy that made the video probably had good intentions…when I act quickly and out of emotion only…I would probably do something similar. I hope that it simply serves to get two messages out there…1. that we should be aware of the staggering number of homeless people and help them as much as we possibly can with things they could really use…and 2. to completely reject the image, brand and implications of A & F by keeping all of their stores empty until they are forced to shut down.

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    • Right! It took me a little while to mull it over, talk to some folks, etc before fully embracing my discomfort, because at first it seems like a great idea. I too, hope those 2 messages are heard, as I think you nailed them right on the head.

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  16. Well done, friend! I loved your response and that you took the opportunity to speak up! You’ve been working there for years and bring an important vantage point to the conversation. I had the same reaction while watching the video. I think he had good intentions, too stick it to Ambercrombie, but failed to think at all about the people he used to carry out his plan. I think he is trying to help the homeless, but as you said so perfectly, he didn’t think about the message it’s sending to them.

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  17. Angel says:

    You make an excellent point that initially didn’t occur to me. I find that sometimes when my heart is in the “right place” I don’t immediately see things from a different perspective that looks at the negative aspect of it, KWIM?

    Anyway, when I thought about doing this, this was my thought process- I was not planning to willy nilly pass them out as he had, I too thought about size and preference being an important aspect of whether or not someone would find a donation helpful to them or not while I was watching the video. I was planning to ask them to choose what they’d like from what I had and was also intending to bring along water and snacks if they needed those, too.

    Also, I was not going to photograph or film anyone else (I found that to be toeing the line of exploitation and as a vlogger, I make it a point to try to not catch anyone else while I’m filming since I’m not sure if they want to be filmed) I intended to film myself buying the clothes instead.

    Like one of PP said, my reasoning was that the homeless people in my area are likely in need of some clothes especially with the change of the season, and why not send this message to the CEO while I’m at it? Not in a “these clothes are such crap but good enough for you” or a “you’re such a loser you’re perfect for this campaign” way but in a “he thinks he can control who is ‘good enough’ to wear his clothes but these are people too who are just as deserving as the next person and he can suck it'” way.

    In my mind the video seemed like a reminder to help the less fortunate and at the same time give a big “F YOU” to the CEO of A&F. But I definitely don’t want to do anything that makes anyone think/feel that they/someone is being exploited

    I think it’s also important to remember that like many other things in life, different people can perceive the same thing in different ways- and that someone may do or say something with the best intentions at heart and honestly not realize how it can make them look like an ass to someone else LOL. I think at the heart of this issue is mostly people angry at this prick of a CEO wanting their voices to be heard (and most if not all of the people who are angry at this guy already don’t shop there so a boycott wouldn’t make a difference) as well as the desire to help those who are in need.

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful (and funny) response. I do think there are parts of this project that could be beneficial, although it’s difficult for me to consider that some people don’t even think about giving to homeless people until there is an agenda (this is not directed at you per se, generally speaking). Why not give them clothes that are not being mocked by the public and then figure out another way to kick Mike Jefferies in the balls?

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  18. Rick says:

    Terrific stuff here! Thanks!

    Like

  19. jaypsyd says:

    I like your soapbox. It’s good to be up there sometimes so you can help other people see what they have not yet seen.

    Like

  20. Abbey says:

    The video down right pisses me off. What is wrong with people? Who thinks it is ok to use one person to upset another. The homeless are people no matter how you slice it. The video maker isn’t asking people to donate any clothing or even help out. He is only looking to piss off king douche bag by using the homeless. He sees the homeless as a tool to annoy and irritate the soon to be out of business company. This saddens me to no end. How can some be so blind to their actions?
    Thank you for calling it like it is. This needs to be done more often. Hopefully, in the future, we will consider how we treat ALL involved and not just the ones we are trying to affect.

    Like

    • Yeah, it doesn’t really appear to me that he is really looking to help anyone either. I’d like to believe that maybe he just didn’t think it through…although that’s almost just as bad. ha.

      Like

  21. cathy says:

    SO well put, Rachel. And we are so easily led off track by a worldly response of evil for evil that that response doesn’t even look evil to us without God’s help. Thanks for being a champion of those without a voice.

    Like

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