So one of my jobs is managing a Hollister store. There are two lessons I feel I've learned from working there that are relevant to the discussions on this blog.
#1. If you say you "feel bad" about messing up a pristine folded pile of clothes, you shouldn't throw the shirt you just grabbed onto the presentation.
If you have ever been to an Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister, you probably are familiar with the kind of folding the company expects. It is basically folding perfection. It sounds ridiculous to talk about the rage that can overtake a person who has just spent 30 minutes of their life on a perfect pile when they see a careless shopper simply rip one out of the stack with no thought given to trying to preserve the other shirts (or whatever). But that rage is real. I sometimes think that shoppers think we just throw the clothes into some kind of folding machine. Do they realize that a person spent time making a pile look like that?
Anyway, every now and then someone will talk about how they "feel bad" for messing up a pile to their friend, yet they will discard their unwanted article of clothing as if it were a piece of trash and they were at a garage sale. And then you get those conscious shoppers who will fold (in some way) the piece of clothing they looked at and place it on top of the pile it came from. It doesn't really matter how they fold it, but the fact that they acknowledge that it is a nicely folded pile by putting a little effort in keeping it nice says a lot about their character.
What does this have to do with anything? I'll tell you. I can't number the amount of times I have heard people say, "I feel bad that you have to deal with being gay," or, "I imagine that would be so hard, and wouldn't wish that on anyone," or "Gosh, I can imagine how painful it would be not to be able to marry the person you love..." and then they end with "but..."
Tell me people, do you REALLY feel bad? Because if you REALLY feel bad, why do you vote to ban gay marriage? Why do you accept that gays shouldn't be given the same rights or standards as straights? Lip service does nothing. And why do you feel bad? Usually we only feel bad because we know what we are doing is messed up... or wrong. You know that pile was folded by a person who spent time making it perfect, and you know the extra work you are leaving them to do, and yet you simply throw the shirt in some random place. If you feel bad for me because "it just must be SO hard to be gay," then make it easier. It doesn't have to be hard.
#2 Our society is unbelievably homophobic. Still.
This is a lesson I learned from our new bags. They certainly cause a stir in Hollister stores across the nation:
Yep. Two dudes. First off, you need to realize that Abercrombie & Fitch sells sexy. Their bags and marketing is always a little provocative and it always has. Suddenly when there is no girl involved, however, the world gets crazy. Second, these guys are not even touching. They are laying on the beach. In fact, if you go to the beach today, chances are you could find a similar thing going on. Two guys on the sand next to each other. But let me tell you about the reactions I witness on a daily basis from people of all ages.
Some people will actually give the bag back after seeing it. Some make comments. They will take a look at the bag, and then with a look of disgust, comment about it to their fellow shopper. Some will comment right in front of you. "That's a fag bag, I don't want that." "Eww, why do they have to put dudes on this!" Others will be more discreet and they will crumple the bag in their hand so no one can make out what is on it. Some will complain and ask for a different bag.
So now, everyday I am reminded of the homophobia that is still very much alive. Especially when it comes to guys. If you replaced the two models with female models, there would be less of a problem. Better yet, make one female and one male and then they could be on top of each other without much controversy. Plus, you can't even tell there are two guys on it by looking at one side. That's all.