Dehumanization, Paternalism and Charity: On #FitchTheHomeless

86B24A42AJamie Utt writes at the Good Men Project:

The internet is in agreement: Fuck Abercrombie & Fitch.

The collective outrage has produced some fantastic responses.  My favorite comes from Amy Taylor who proclaims,

“I am proud to say that I may be a not-so-cool kid and the extra pounds I carry may not be a thing of beauty, but I am nothing like you or your brand — and that, Mr. Jeffries, is a beautiful thing.”

But inevitably, as is par for the course on the interwebs, there are going to be some responses that are less than fantastic, that despite good intentions, actually end up furthering oppression rather than combating it.

Enter the #FitchTheHomeless campaign.

I’ve seen a number of people posting this on Facebook and Twitter with captions like, “Awesome!” and “Perfect.” and “Brilliant!!”

But when a friend posted it to my timeline asking for my thoughts, I immediately was left with a pretty terrible taste in my mouth.

This “campaign” is neither “Awesome!” nor “Perfect.” or “Brilliant!”  And here’s why:

While I am sure the creator had good intentions (“I can humiliate Abercrombie & Fitch while helping people in need!!!“), what it ends up doing is using people experiencing homelessness as pawns to make a political statement.

And that’s really not okay.

Setting aside the immature digs at the physical appearance of Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries, the essential premise of the video seems to be:

Abercrombie & Fitch wants only “attractive” people to wear their clothes, so let’s rebrand them by putting the ickiest people in their clothes that we possibly can, and who’s ickier than homeless people!?!?

So the White man who created the video puts on his White Savior cape, buys up a bunch of second-hand Abercrombie merch, and heads to a community this is, in every respect, not his space to invade: Skid Row.

Read more here.

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  • BuzzCoastin

    petty bourgeois bullshit both

  • Anarchy Pony

    Why fuck abercrombie and fitch? What’d they do? I haven’t been paying attention. Was it a really offensive ad campaign or something?

    • BuzzCoastin

      this message brought to you Abercrummy & Fitch

      all publicity is good publicity
      dragged you out your ignorance didn’t it?
      if wee really want to hurt A&F
      wheel ignore them entirely
      unfortunately, wee just added to their base number of eyeballs
      the law that powers advertizing spamnewspeak

      • kowalityjesus

        You’re absolutely right. Rectifying the sentiments of narcissistic teenagers and their mental equivalents by granting them the opportunity to justifiably say “fuck you/that” is a loss. Its not so much a battle of good and evil as it is the friction of tendrils.

    • Jin The Ninja

      the CEO said he doesn’t want ‘fat girls’ shopping there, and the only reason they carry XL and XXL for mensfolk is for ‘athletes.’ they want to cater to ‘cool kids’ (his words) . i guess he hasn’t been outside of a suburban minnesota mall since ’95- because no one wears those shit clothes anyway.

      • Anarchy Pony

        Thanks, What a douchebag. We should go torch some a&c shops later.

  • Simon Valentine

    so, not using people as pawns is pawns using them as pawns, now, pawns? zug zug.

  • The Well Dressed Man

    This is generating quite a lot of press for A&F. I wonder if their sales are actually increasing as a result. I’ve never been able to see the appeal personally, the aesthetic is something that would cause Cayce Pollard to have profound panic attacks.

    • Anarchy Pony

      It’s shit for rich bitch preppie douchebags.

      • The Well Dressed Man

        I’m in full agreement AP. Acting like douches could be the new way for brands to market to douches.

  • Ittabena

    Well now this is a great goal to have. Someone give me this guy’s email. I know what he should do after this. We could all go down to different nursing homes and loosen up the nuts on the wheelchairs.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrgpZ0fUixs

    Dennis Leary’s moment of genius.

  • Frank_Black

    It took people this long to realize A&F was packaged douchebaggery? Why am I so surprised?

    • Jin The Ninja

      my sentiments exactly.

      consumerism trumps humanism yet again.

  • Adz55

    Fat people should have to pay more for clothes as it uses more material, the same with airplane seats. Being fat isn’t a disability and shouldn’t be considered one. A&F is a private company and they should be able to run their business as they wish, as a consumer if you don’t like how they operate then don’t buy from there.

    • Jin The Ninja

      dear manager of an aberzombie store in outlying suburban omaha,

      i’m not a consumer, thanks. i’m a fucking human being, and i believe it quite necessary to treat others with the most basal level of decency.

      fine- they don’t carry sizes higher than 10- but that CEO isn’t exactly a supermodel, he has no bizness shilling backwards damaging misogyny.

      and i do actually object to how a private biz runs if they discriminate based on race and religion and utilise sweatshop and child labour. immoral and illegal.

    • Anarchy Pony

      Well aren’t you a good little drone. Give us some more of that “vote with your money” bullshit, and keep pretending that it’s constructive, it’s hilarious.

    • The Well Dressed Man

      If we apply your logic to the issue, the fat tax would be pennies on the dollar. Materials are an extremely small part of the cost of mass-produced clothes compared to distribution and marketing. This is all about marketing. This brand has always been a good indicator of people to avoid!

    • David Duke-Astin

      well, I can tell you that tall people pay more for clothes (and people with feet bigger than 13). And fat people DO pay more for clothes. Plus sizes and big and tall clothes are more expensive.

      Trivia: My sister had to have a bridesmaid’s dress custom made at twice the cost. …..cuz her dress needed twice the material lol….that’s mean….

      A&F has always been douchey. It’s their prerogative to exclude big girls from their clothing line. It would deteriorate their brand.

  • davakins

    applecrumlies and felch?

  • Noah_Nine

    white guilt strikes again….

  • Girl with an opinion

    he wasn’t giving them to the homeless because he couldn’t think of anyone ickier. The CEO had said he’d rather “burn the clothes, than donate them to the less fortunate” IE, the homeless/people below the poverty line. And so he went and did just what the CEO was trying not to do, and was doing an act of kindness/ as well as making a political statement. His aim was to help people in need, and make a just and rightfully needed statement. And as far as “immature” goes. How about the CEO himself? It’s pretty immature to burn clothes than give them away, and it’s also pretty immature to say he wants only “the cool kids” to wear his clothes. Reassess your point.

  • Kathleen

    GONE FITCHING !!!

  • David Duke-Astin

    it’s hard out there for douchebags. Some people be hatin’, so jealous.

  • David Duke-Astin

    That’s fine with me, but he should know that fatties are a growth market. I was out today and I was astounded at the sheer number of fat asses. I’ve been wondering why the bus has seemed more crowded lately…it’s because of all the big butts.

  • tibby trillz

    yeh but homeless people got new clothes. and they dont have the internet so they cant even tell they are being exploited. whos getting hurt here?

  • http://www.facebook.com/sonsern Sonsern Lin

    #Fitchthehomeless is a viral movement to spite A&F and make them the no. 1 brand of the homeless. Many believe that the whole idea is degrading because the homeless people are being used to contrast the idea of cool by positioning them as “unworthy,” or lesser human beings. And it’s not clear whether, from the homeless perspective, this stunt is actually helping anything.

    In response, P1124 has started a “Wear One, Share One” campaign to clothe the same homeless people on Skid Row. But unlike the #fitchthehomeless movement, whose goal is to shame Abercrombie without regard to the wellbeing of the homeless, P1124′s sole goal is to uplift and bless the homeless. The “Wear One, Share One” Campaign is simple; buy one shirt, get two, one to wear, one to share. Lets #uplifthehomeless, and show them that they are worthy of receiving the same new clothes that we purchase for ourselves. Make P1124 the title of no. 1 brand of the homeless.

    Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T-6sLb8qWg

    Learn more about the movement: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/p1124-the-number-one-brand-of-the-homeless/x/3113340