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FIRST-PERSON: Abercrombie & Fitch sinks to new low; Youth, will you lead us?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Abercrombie & Fitch has somehow found a way to sink to a new low in its promotion of sexual promiscuity and deviance. The trendy clothier that markets to teens and college students and has been known for several years for its practically pornographic quarterly catalogs recently attempted to introduce thongs for children in its stores and on its online catalog. After national media attention and a torrent of criticism, A&F quietly pulled the product from its shelves.

In two previous editorials (July 12, 2001 and Nov. 8, 2001) I have outlined the reasons Christians should boycott A&F. The kiddie thong debacle demands further attention to this corporate purveyor of perversity.

Here’s how the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (May 17) described the thong: “Calling it the ‘modern-day version of Underoos,’ a national clothing company is selling thong underwear in children’s sizes — with words ‘eye candy’ and ‘wink wink’ printed on the front.” Although A&F said that the rearless underwear was designed for girls aged 10 to 16, the Journal-Sentinel noted, “The smallest size — a medium — appears small enough to fit an even younger girl.”

A&F spokesman Hampton Carney said of the thongs: “It’s cute and fun and sweet,” adding that “it’s not appropriate for a seven-year-old, but it is appropriate for a 10-year-old. Once you get about 10, you start to care about your underwear, and you start to care about your clothes.”

It would take a Spin Doctor far beyond Carney’s ability (or anyone else’s) to rationalize this repulsive product. In light of the national media attention to the growing pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church, it’s incredible that any company would attempt to introduce a product like A&F’s kiddie thong. But this demonstrates the depth of perversity at A&F.

Bill Johnson, president of American Decency Association (ADA) and a leader in the A&F boycott movement, rightly says that A&F has little regard for the “innocence of young girls, and I think it’s really outrageous.”

This summer’s A&F catalog, labeled “XXX,” has continued the pornographic theme of the corporation. ADA says of the catalog: “The first 119 pages are devoted to full-page, color photographs of nude teenagers cavorting at the beach, in the water, in the backyard. The erotically posed photographs are what you would expect to see in a porn magazine, not in a clothing catalog whose market audience are teenagers.” To learn more about the summer catalog, go to the ADA website (www.americandecency.org/a7fsummero2.htm).

Although no longer available, the short-lived kiddie thong product further demonstrates that there is a corporate culture of perversity at A&F that should cause Christians to take their clothing dollars elsewhere.

As I travel around the state and visit our churches, I’m struck by the frequency with which I see youth wearing A&F apparel. I believe it’s time for Southern Baptist youth to rise up and take a stand against A&F. What a statement it would make if our youth would take the lead in boycotting A&F. Youth leaders should help their students understand why we should not assist A&F in advancing its perverse agenda by buying its products.

What can you do?

1. Take your clothing dollars elsewhere. Then write A&F’s president and tell him you’ve done so.
Michael Jeffries, President
Abercrombie & Fitch
6301 Fitch Path
New Albany, OH 43054
Phone: 614-283-6500

2. Sign onto the ADA’s boycott petition at its website (www.americandecency.org/abercrombie.htm).

3. Tell others about the A&F boycott and encourage them to participate.

If you are already supporting the boycott, stay the course — “Do not grow weary of doing good” (2 Thess. 3:13). The A&F kiddie thongs and catalogs demonstrate that we live in a sexually saturated culture that is constantly at work to undermine biblical morality. Christians should not participate in advancing A&F’s blatant campaign to normalize pornography by purchasing its products.
Smith is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness newsjournal.

    About the Author

  • James A. Smith
  • James A. Smith, Sr.
  • Sr.