Shopping is one of my daughter’s favorite things to do. So we often travel 75 miles to go to a mall because it has all of her favorites stores – her idea of a perfect day out with mom. One of those stores is Abercrombie. For the most part I like the clothes for her, they fit her well and I have often thought to myself that I would have loved this store when I was her age.
And then I saw this poster. I took a picture while in the store. Since you probably can’t read the writing, here is what it says:
“Good: excludes school functions, not defined by obeying curfews, anything found in my room is inadmissible and cannot be used as evidence, all parent-teacher conferences and sibling testimonials are heresay and will be struck from the record.”
This is a kids clothing store!
Clearly they are going for the “cool” image. It is a status symbol to wear the Abercrombie moose or name on your clothes. And with this one sign they are associating cool with bad behavior. It is so blatant I am still stunned, not to mention angry.
I went to their website and submitted a letter to customer service months ago. I never heard back.
There were other parents in the store when I was taking pictures of the sign. I even took a few pictures trying to get the glare down. No one seemed to even notice. I wonder how many people have been in that store and never noticed what it said. It’s quite possible that I have walked right past it before.
When I asked my daughter what she thought, her response was that she knows what they put on that sign is dumb and just because she buys the clothes doesn’t mean she is going to start being bad just to be cool. Is that the same attitude some parents have when they choose to just look the other way?
We could of course just stop shopping there and stop wearing their clothes. But will that really accomplish anything? Truth is I don’t want to have to stop shopping there. What I do want is for Abercrombie to be responsible for the messages they are sending through their advertising directed at kids.
The bottom line is I have a choice to make.
One option is to look the other way and keep shopping there. For me that is not a choice I could make though and remain in integrity with my values. So the choice for me is do I want to take a stand or simply walk away. I can’t hide behind my e-mail and say “well at least I tried”. That is not a stand, it’s pretending to try so I can let myself off the hook and justify a conclusion that it’s just a poster and it doesn’t really matter anyway.
As I thought about what to do I came face to face with one of the reasons why any one of us may choose not to speak up, step up or stand up when faced with the opportunity.
I noticed myself start down the tunnel of “why bother?”
One person who stops shopping in a store will not affect their bottom line. Any letter I send is likely to be read by a minimum wage employee, get categorized and responded to with one of many form letters. My e-mail was already ignored. Besides, if their advertising is having the desired results what would their incentive to change it anyway? How much effort am I willing to expend? Would it be worth the investment in might take to make any difference? Walking away would certainly be easier.
I’ve been thinking about this saying: “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything?” unknown
While I may be talking about a specific situation here, as leaders we often come face to face with the choice to take a stand or not.
You could say that choosing to stop shopping there and even telling others about it is a stand. But I think that is more of a personal choice for the purpose of staying true to my values. Taking a stand is about standing for something much larger than ourselves. Taking a stand is not always the best choice or the “right” choice either. Sometimes we make the call to choose not to invest the energy for a particular purpose or cause.
Either way though leaders choose consciously. And if we want to lead “trying” to take a stand is not an option. We either do or we don’t. When a leader chooses to take a stand it is not for the purpose of being right, it is for the purpose of making a difference.