by Lindsay Gullingsrud
Last week, my husband and I went to pick up a few last-minute holiday gifts. Our 13 year old likes American Eagle, so we went there to pick up a few items. As I was looking for underwear, I found a pair that glowed in the dark and had beavers on them. I picked them up to take a closer look and noticed the message on them said “Beaver Fever”. I looked at my husband and said, “What kind of messages are we sending our boys about girls with these?!” With a look of disgust, my husband agreed. Then I noticed there was a woman next to me that must have agreed or realized what she was purchasing because she put that pair back! That one statement demanded the change and inspired a change of heart.
A week has gone by, and this moment is still on my mind. The problem with the underwear at American Eagle has nothing to do with the fact that my husband and I were personally offended. The problem with them is that their message undermines all of the lessons we want to teach our kids about relationships, how we treat each other, and how we value ourselves as well as others, and this message is on most of the underwear being sold in that store. My comment at the store was loud enough for everyone around us to hear. To my knowledge, at least one person stopped and thought about what she was purchasing. I also posted this moment on Facebook and it created a flurry of comments from friends. They all agreed that this was not acceptable. They all agreed that this is not the message they are teaching the young people in their lives about relationships, how we treat each other, or how we value one another. This post also prompted them to tell me about a number of other things they had been seeing over the past few weeks.
This is the time of year when many people think about their New Year’s resolution. For some, it might be to eat healthier, get their finances in order, or make more time for family. I propose that we also take the time to make a resolution about what all of us can do to demand the change. In that moment at American Eagle, I did not think to speak to a manager. I wish I had. I have thought about all of the points I wish I would have made. So, this is my new year’s resolution: I am going to say something. I am going to continue to say something. I might not get that underwear or the next item I see pulled from the racks, but when I speak up, it makes others stop and think, just like that woman at American Eagle. I can continue to bring up the issue. By doing so, I will help others pause for a moment and see the bigger picture.
I have contacted American Eagle, and I am currently waiting for a response. What are you going to do? What is your action? What is your New Year’s resolution that can help demand the change?