Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tryouts for 16 and Pregnant

[Note: My thoughts on this subject have been swirling around in my head for close to a week now, and I'm still not sure that I have them organized enough to not be written verbal diarrhea.]

As I mentioned in my last post, I went shopping on Black Friday with a gaggle of women and women-in-training. It's our usual post-Thanksgiving tradition...even down to where we eat (A&W on the lowest lower level of Woodfield).

Generally, it's just the adults women that go, leaving the men-folk to deal with all 10-12 of the children. But this time, my beautiful nieces whom I'll call Ducky and Kitty came along too. Ducky is 12 and Kitty just turned 9. This is important to my story.

As we were winding down our trip to the mall, Ducky and her mom were looking for a coat for her, and we found ourselves in Hollister. Now, the things I know about Hollister I can count on one hand...I know teenagers like it and the outside looks like its own house. So, I venture in with everyone on the search for a coat. (And important to the story...I know Hollister is no angel. But even they have their limits.)

As we were leaving (okay, they were leaving, I had already toured the store, become bored, and was waiting on the fake front porch for everyone), the cashier had apparently told all that came through the line to visit their new sister store in the mall, called Gilly Hicks. Earlier that day, my step-sister and Ducky had noticed bags with that name on it, and saw some people wearing Gilly Hicks sweats at lunch.

So, we head to Gilly Hicks, which I keep calling Gilly Hopkins, because I read it in 5th grade. We were looking for cute sweats, because Ducky is a kick-butt basketball player. We find Gilly Hicks and go in. It's got that same house feeling that Hollister did.

Oh Gilly, what happened to your self-esteem?

But then we went in.

I don't think we're in Kansas puberty any more, Toto.

This is a teenage lingerie store. For real. I actually saw see-through nighties here.

I walked around with my mouth open, quite literally, for the majority of our time in there. And what's worse than the teen pregnancy-inducing outfits in there (and calling them outfits is being very generous) is what the employees have to wear.

I tried like the Dickens to find a picture of what these girls were wearing. Smart-move, Gilly Hopkins, for not putting that outfit on there for google to find. Here's my artist's rendering:

Yes, those are plaid short-shorts with just a hint of butt cheek. And my stick figure has no head, because even my stick figure has too much shame to show her face. Now imagine 5-7 of these girls squatting, bending, reaching, and doing the other things any clothing store associate has to do. Chris Matthews was waiting in the back with a camera crew and two police officers.

(And these girls are GIRLS. If they are 18, they are the kind of 18 that's of the Barely Legal variety.)

(In my mind, I keep thinking some of their employees go on to work at cheerleader car washes and test Valtrex samples.)

Now, I never thought of myself as a prude. I can laugh at a funny dirty joke. I answer my kids questions as well as I can about body parts (there was a run on bra questions here a few months ago). I'm not ashamed of my body (though I probably should be). But this store made me uncomfortable (that's like saying childbirth is uncomfortable).

Remember, this store was recommended to us by the people that work at Hollister. Hollister. A place I've only seen the teenage crowd wear. So, using logic, Sluts R Us Gilly Hicks would be targeting the same demographic. Right?

And here is the kingpin in my argument. This is the 15 ft long picture at their checkout:

So, let's do a rundown here. You are a pre-teen and another store -seeing you are petite 5 foot 12 year-old- tells you to come to their sister store to look for cute sweats. You get here and are faced with a library of bras (okay, not so bad), thongs as far as the eye can see, porno stand-in employees, and and a trousseau big enough to make sure your first time with the football team is classy and special. Then, you go to pay for your one pair of sweats, and you are staring at some 8 foot naked dude checking out what's under his girlfriends too-tight-and-low jeans.

And this okay?

I've heard kids are growing up too quickly and becoming sexually active at a younger age. I know there is debate about public schools giving condoms to those that ask (it was a debate even when I was in high school 10-14 years ago), but with a store like this in your midst, I think condoms are one of the lesser worries.

(I feel like there should be a sign like Free Pregnancy Test with Every Purchase or You'd Put Out if you Really Cared about Him. Also, a few pamphlets like "How to lose your self-esteem before you enter high school" would be helpful for their bottom line.)

That all said, my daughter is only 3 1/2. I hope for my Xanax consumption that store (and God help us, more like them) are out of commission in 10 years. But if they're not, the only way my daughter is going into one is a.) if she's over the age of 21 and b.) doing a piece of hard-hitting investigative journalism.

What happened with my family and our encounter there? Well, Ducky's mom was appalled, too. I heard her say that she would NEVER let her daughter work there. Ducky did buy her sweats and some body lotion. I kept my snarky comments to myself, and we continued with our mall trip.

Gilly Hopkins Hicks, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. At least Victoria had a SECRET.


  1. Wow - I'm glad I haven't seen that place myself because it might bring me to tears!

  2. Holy crap. That is whucktastic. But what a totally awesome post! Still! Laughing! Super! Hard!

  3. Holy shit!! I think the worst part is when this blatant capitalizing on the exploitation of young girls masquerades as feminism.

  4. UNBELIEVABLE! I usually try to stay as far from Woodfield as I can and this gives me another reason (I thought Victoria's Secret was bad enough as I passed with my preschool-aged boys, who couldn't take their eyes off their posters). At least I can now be aware if I have to go there again. What can we do, besides boycott the company I wasn't going to shop at anyway? That is p*rn posted right there in public, for young eyes to see!!!!! It's sickening.

  5. Wow! I've avoided malls for many years for countless reasons, not only because of the other customers but also because of the inflated prices. This takes advertising ethics into question. Is this blatant exploitation of minors? Are there long term detrimental social effects that will harm the self esteem of their underage customers? Why would anyone condone dressing their child at a time when sex crimes are so common that every sex offender (that is caught) has to be registered? It sounds like they are seducing the child into role playing the sexually active adult even before peer pressure and teen hormones come into play. Snarky Mom, you wage war with this one and I shall remain on your side through victory.

  6. Omg - unbelievable!!! I can't believe that's the actual billboard.