“I didn’t know Abercrombie made people now!”
This is what the teenage girl dressed in goth-like clothing I’d just walked past said to her friends. Loudly, so me and the rest of Fourteenth Street could hear her. The group burst into laughter.
None of this is from Abercrombie, the naively rational part of my brain argued. I had on a black racerback floral dress and my brand-new Target wedges, with my laptop jammed into a black Longchamp bag nestled in the crook of my arm. They don’t even make clothes in black. But still…is she talking about me?
I turned around half-expecting to see a fresh-faced blonde wearing artfully-torn skinny jeans and a polo with a popped collar walking behind me. Or perhaps a polite, shirtless young man sporting boot-cut jeans, flip flops and an admirable midsection. Instead, I looked right at the girl who’d made the comment. From behind my sunglasses, I took note of her ensemble – teased hair, a lip ring and what appeared to be head-to-toe Hot Topic apparel. She took my quizzical expression for contempt.
“Oohhh! Did you see her? She was all —” and then made some motion with her hands as to indicate what I was “all” (walking like a robot, if her gestures were to be believed). More laughter. Yes, they were definitely talking about me.
But if she meant to insult me, or to embarrass me somehow, she picked the wrong target. A range of emotions bubbled up inside me, but the worst I felt was a pang of superficiality that I didn’t feel bad. At all.
She thinks I look like I was made by the store known for a hiring policy of recruiting only “beautiful people?” Whose half-naked models boast chiseled abs, perfect breasts and shiny hair? Whose surprisingly well-made and chic outerwear I still covet come fall and winter? Whose jeans are still the only decently-priced pairs I’ve found that fit my short legs and curvy butt perfectly?
That. Is. Awesome.
Do I understand what she was going for? Sure, but I’d rather be labeled under a style ideal that’s commonly accepted as “pretty” even if generically so. I bought into my homogeneity. She and her Paramour-loving (or whatever the all black-clad kids are into these days) brethren all think they’re different, and subsequently all look the same. I accept my conformist look consciously, while they’re under the illusion of being rebelliously unique.
So if she wanted to call me out for being boringly attractive and relatively well-coordinated, by god, I was going to let her.
For a brief moment, I considered pointing out that nothing I had on even came from Abercrombie & Fitch. The high schooler in me wanted to ask if she was Team Jacob or Team Edward, and tell her that lip rings are so three years ago. But in my high heels, I wasn’t sure I could run fast enough if the mob turned angry.
Instead, I opted to turn around with a dismissive toss of my hair, throw my shoulders back, and swing my hips in an exaggerated model stomp ’til I descended the subway stairs at the end of the block.
It just seemed like the “Abercrombie” thing to do.
If some punkass kid was going to make fun of you by equating you with a retail outlet, which retailer do you think it would be? And maybe more importantly, would it bother you?