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What's In A Name? How about the Abercombie and Fitch ER?

Now your children can experience A & F outside the mall!  In the emergency room!  Gee, I sure hope the doctors and nurses are wearing comfortable khakis and fake-vintage, offensive t shirts.  CNN reports that Boston-based Campaign For A Commercial Free Childhood is asking Nationwide Children's Hospital (Columbus, OH) to reconsider using the Abercrombie and Fitch name on its Emergency Room, to which the company pledged $10 million dollars.  While many people agree that corporate naming of public and semi-public institutions and venues is pretty icky (Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Toyota Center, Minute Maid Park...it goes on and on), this particular example is especially distasteful given A & F's troubling advertising history. 

"The Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood on Tuesday urged the hospital to drop any plans to put Abercrombie's name on the project, pointing to research that has shown a link between sexualized images of teens in the media and mental health problems in girls.  The advocacy group made its position public in a letter to the hospital Tuesday that was signed by about 70 pediatricians and academics from around the United States.  "Given this company's appalling history of targeting children with sexualized marketing and clothing, no public health institution should be advertising Abercrombie & Fitch," the letter states.  Full article here.

You may recall the outcry against their "racy" 2003 catalogue which portrayed nude and half-dressed young models or that one of the company's Christmas publications declared "Group Sex" on the cover (article here).

Oh, and remember the time they made those racist t shirts?  And those sexist t shirts (classics like "Who Needs Brains When You Have These?" and "Old Men Like Tig Old Bitties")?  And those thong panties for girls (with more tasteful slogans like "Eye Candy" and "Wink Wink")?  Oh, and don't forget this 2004 class action lawsuit!

Yup, they're pretty freaking awesome.  The Campaign For Commerical Free Childhood is not telling the hospital not to take the money.  But to avoid using the name.

(Story discovered via Feminist Law Professors blog)

 

 

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Comments

5 comments have been made. Post a comment.

If my only choices...

...were taking my child to the Abercrombie & Fitch ER and turning to Christian Science, I would probably have to think about it. A lot.

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Andi Zeisler, cofounder and editorial/creative director

Comments Policy: Like to hear it? Here it go!

Really? Are you really serious? Really?

I get why people hate on Abercrombie, but Les Wexner has pretty much owned Columbus for decades. He's been rerouting freeway traffic to send more by his stores since before I learned to drive, and he's always donated just enough to charities and hospitals and such to get his name on the "good guy" list in the papers.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that Columbus Children's Hospital (which just changed its name to Nationwide this year --- why is renaming the whole damn hospital (including all the satellite offices) for a corporate sponsor okay, when renaming the E.R. isn't?) already had an Abercrombie and Fitch atrium or something like that back when I worked there, which means at least 5 years ago, and their research facility is named Wexner, after the owner of the whole Limited brands chain.

But my main beef with all this totally arbitrary outrage that people have about this, is that they say things like the above comment. Unless your hatred for Abercrombie and Fitch is so deep and abiding it can't compete with the health of your child in your mind, you're probably joking. And if the former is the case, well, congrats you're crazy.

This hospital is one of the best around, with caring, awesome people who love to work with children (including, full disclosure, my dad and a lot of my friends and former coworkers). It's also a teaching hospital affiliated with OSU medical school, which helps OSU be the competitive, high-quality medical school that it is.

So my overall point is, if you judge against something just because of the brand name on the label, you're just getting sucked into a twisted sort of brand anti-loyalty that allows you to make snap judgments based on appearances rather than facts.

Sorry if the tone of this is a bit snippy. I just think the implication that the hospital will now be staffed by mannequins with nipples or whatever is offensive to those who actually work there, who by and large are great people who dedicate their lives to helping sick children.

Re: Really? Are you really serious? Really?

Seriously, no. I like Western medicine. But there's something deeply, deeply wrong with a children's hospital naming a wing for a company that is notorious for sexualizing children, and I do think it's worth calling them out on it. Yes, it's a larger problem of corporatization, but individual entities bucking that system can make a difference. Larry Flynt has a long history of supporting freedom of speech and anticensorship measures, but would you support a university building a Hustler wing?

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Andi Zeisler, cofounder and editorial/creative director

Comments Policy: Like to hear it? Here it go!

arbitrary? nope.

i wouldn't characterize the outrage as arbitrary.  yes, hospitals name wards after people or companies who/that donate money.  but clearly folks are troubled by an instance in which a place that is supposed to care for children might bear the name of a company that has shown to have little regard for sexualizing them to make money.

no one is saying the hospital is a bad one or that the people inside of it are anything less than the best (clearly, saying that they'll wear A & F is an obvious joke..sometimes laughing about something icky makes it feel better).  if anything, naming the ER after this company is an insult to the good work that they actually do.  the organization has a problem with the name, not accepting the money. 

i think i've got every right to judge A & F for their past violations, of which there are many.  and i do think it makes a difference to call them out.  no, we can't call everyone out because there are only 24 hours in a day and there's crap going on all the damn time that deserves our attention.  but, just because we can't call everyone out doesn't mean we jsut abandon the whole prospect. 

but i do think it makes an impact that a single person says, you know, it bothers me what this company is doing.  i don't think i'll shop there.  i mean, i'm pretty jaded, but i'm not that jaded yet that i think an individual's actions are meaningless.

Anna Breshears