Pop-Culture | Posted by Fiona L on 04/14/2011

How Effective Is A Girlcott Anyway?

push-up bikini tops for 7-year-olds: what exactly are they pushing up?

push-up bikini tops for 7-year-olds: what exactly are they pushing up?

Abercrombie & Fitch and American Apparel have done it again. In the past, Abercrombie & Fitch has come under criticism for T-shirts with racist and sexist sayings, thongs for girls as young as ten, and semi-nude advertisements in their catalogs. In 2005, the Women and Girls association of Pennsylvania led a “girlcott” against sexist T-shirts, which read “Who needs brains when you’ve got these?” and “I had a nightmare I was a brunette.” Abercrombie & Fitch eventually pulled the shirts. Now, Abercrombie & Fitch has decided to sell push-up bikini tops for girls as young as seven (clearly a great idea, since the thongs for ten-year-olds went over so well).

The bikini tops which were originally advertised as “push-up” on the Abercrombie & Fitch website are now just described as “striped bikini,” but the padding is still there. The sad thing is, I can imagine seven-year-old girls getting excited about padded bikinis (since our society teaches us from a very young age that certain body types are enviable, and “pushed up breasts” tend to fall into that category). Abercrombie & Fitch certainly isn’t helping this problem with their padded bikini nightmare.

American Apparel is coming under criticism for its leadership (which has not exactly been leading by example). Dov Charney, the founder, chief executive, and some would say uber-creep of American Apparel, was just sued for supposedly having a sex slave. Yep, that’s right. A sex-slave. In recent years, American Apparel has been condemned for soft-core porn-like advertising (am I sensing a theme here?) and Charney himself has already been sued several times for sexual harassment.

The woman suing, Irene Morales, accused Charney of sexual harassment, a hostile workplace environment, and gender discrimination. She also called Charney a “sexual predator.” According to Morales, she was imprisoned in Charney’s home shortly after beginning to work for him at age seventeen, and was forced to engage in sex acts.

So, now that we’ve established that Abercrombie & Fitch and American Apparel may be sleazy in their marketing and products, and could be damaging to girls and women, what do we do? Do we shrug and figure that most stores we buy from are probably engaged in some sort of behavior we’d rather not hear about and just avoid the padded bikinis and racist T-shirts? Or, do we decide to forgo the overpriced, too-tight, stretchy, American Apparel mini-skirt because the guy who’s selling it may have enslaved a girl our age.

Believe it or not (non-teenage girls reading this), it isn’t the easiest decision to try to girlcott popular stores, especially when all our friends are shopping there. Some of my favorite clothes are from American Apparel, and I still remember how excited I was when I got an Abercrombie & Fitch sweater for my birthday in sixth grade.

I can’t help but wonder what my small action of girlcotting would actually accomplish. I know groups, such as the Women and Girls association of Pennsylvania have used girlcotting to get sexist products pulled from the market, but does the girlcott even have a long term impact? I mean, sure, the Abercrombie & Fitch girlcott of 2005 caused the store to discontinue its line of T-shirts, but here they are again with padded bikinis for seven-year-olds!

I can live without clothes from either of these places and I would do so in a heartbeat, if I thought it would make a real difference. Whether or not a girlcott would be effective, I might feel kind of creeped out wearing the clothes anyway. But, with all the possibility for failure and repeat offenses on the part of the company, is it worth standing alone as all my friends shop at American Apparel, because I’m hoping to change the attitude of one of the many companies out there that doesn’t respect women?

When I first heard about Abercrombie & Fitch and American Apparel, I opened up a word document and titled this blog, “A&F and AA Have Done it Again! Do I hear a Girlcott?”, but as I started to write, I realized that the writer of that blog, while I sometimes wish it was me, just isn’t. The world we live in forces socially conscious girls to make tough decisions and sometimes hollering girlcott is easier said than done.

Originally posted on the website Rachel Simmons: Leadership for Life

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  • Katherine C. @ at 12:27 pm, April 14th, 2011

    I’ve been boycotting Abercrombie & Fitch for years. It’s an awful company. They have absolutely no sense of shame.

  • Natalia @ at 1:16 pm, April 14th, 2011

    What has our society come to? I find this extremely disturbing.

  • A @ at 3:21 pm, April 14th, 2011

    @Katherine C.- me too!

    @Fiona- I think that boycotts (girlcotts, personcotts?) ARE effective. If we garner enough support, anything can be changed, which sounds idealistic and even frightening, but it’s true for many social causes. I believe that for something like this, it’s one of our most effective methods to achieve change.

  • allie @ at 3:32 pm, April 14th, 2011

    i was lucky when i was growing up mainly because i grew up fat and none of these cloths fit me. i learned to live without designer labels and brands, i see no point in them. even though i’m thinner now i still don’t see what the big deal is with labels, they aren’t who you are, your not a better person for them!

  • Talia bat Pessi @ at 7:17 pm, April 14th, 2011

    I don’t see why it’s so hard to stop shopping at these places. Many of my friends shop in certain stores and wear certain brands, and I don’t. It’s no big deal. If people value themselves based on the label in their sweater, that’s a really sad society we’ve created.

  • Nurdiyansah, www.jejakwisata.com @ at 4:23 am, April 15th, 2011

    They pushing up the patriarchy

  • Laura @ at 2:51 pm, April 15th, 2011

    I think that questioning what impact you on your own is making is rather futile. There are a lot of places that I don’t shop at because I don’t agree with their philosophy. I know that me not shopping at a store isn’t going to necessarily put them out of business; however, it does make me feel better about the choices that I’m making. It’s for the same reason that I still vote democrat despite living in Texas – it rarely puts them in office, but I have to hope that one day it will make a difference.

  • Miriam @ at 7:50 pm, April 15th, 2011

    I think there’s a difference between boycotting a store on your own and boycotting it as part of a large, organized protest. If you really care, organize a protest or suggest that an organization you support start one. There’s no sense in boycotting a store on your own. Its profits won’t suffer for it, and you’ll be denying yourself clothes that you potentially like for no good whatsoever.

  • Bikini Tops For Jeeps - Used Cars, Used Cars for Sale, Buy Used – Used Cars, Used Cars for Sale, Buy Used @ at 12:48 am, April 16th, 2011

    […] How Effective Is A Girlcott Anyway? | fbombDescription : The bikini tops which were originally advertised as ?push-up? on the Abercrombie & Fitch website are now just described as ?striped bikini,? but the padding is still there. The sad thing is, I can imagine seven-year-old girls getting …http://thefbomb.org/2011/04/ho .. […]

  • NWOslave @ at 11:26 am, April 16th, 2011

    So you want to “girlcott” stores for “sexually objectifying” women, yet out of the other side of your mouth you want the “right” to sexually objectify yourselves by dressing in less. But you also don’t want to be “slut shamed” for dressing in less. Isn’t this the very definition of hypocracy?

  • Miriam @ at 8:31 pm, April 16th, 2011

    @NWOslave: There’s a huge difference between a woman choosing to wear revealing clothing and a 7-year-old girl being encouraged by the media to turn herself into a sex object by making her nonexistent breasts look bigger. If you don’t see that difference, I don’t know how to explain this to you.

    Also, you claim that dressing revealingly means “sexually objectifying” yourself. You can’t sexually objectify yourself any more than you can sexually assault yourself. Sexual objectification is done by the viewer, who CHOOSES to see a woman as a sex object and not as a living, breathing human being, just because of the clothes she has put on her body.

  • On Girlcotts « Falling Letters @ at 9:50 pm, April 16th, 2011

    […] to market a push-up bikini top for pre-pubescent girls is old news now, but I read an interesting post on Fbomb about it and whether or not a “girlcott” would be effective. This got me thinking about […]

  • allie @ at 7:09 pm, April 18th, 2011

    leave the little NWOslave troll alone, he/she likes to come on here and stir up trouble!

  • Derpina @ at 3:15 pm, April 19th, 2011


    >”…encouraged by the media to turn herself into a sex object…”
    >”You can’t sexually objectify yourself…”

    I don’t mean to criticize, but could you elaborate?

  • Miriam @ at 2:07 pm, April 20th, 2011

    @allie–thanks for the tip. :)

    @Derpina–I’m not sure what you’d like me to elaborate, but I’ll try to explain my views on this subject.

    What I’m trying to say is that the media encourages women to portray themselves in a certain way (you need only look at any women’s or men’s magazine, or any advertisement involving women, to see this). When a brand very popular with young girls advertises a “pushup top” for them, it creates the impression that in order to be attractive and desirable, they should look older and much more sexual than they can be at that age. This is what I mean by the media encouraging someone to turn herself into a sex object.

    However, in this sense, it is not the woman objectifying HERSELF. Most women, whatever they may be wearing, realize that there’s more to them than their appearance and that they’re worth more than just how good they look. The objectification is done by

  • Miriam @ at 2:09 pm, April 20th, 2011

    Sorry, that posted too soon.

    Anyway, the objectification is done by anyone who then looks at the woman and sees her as nothing more than an object. For instance, a man who thinks he’s entitled to rape a woman simply because she’s dressed revealingly is objectifying her.

  • Evelyn @ at 1:47 am, April 22nd, 2011

    I definitely agree that lots of stores have terrible policies, and send horrible messages to children. However, it is because of this that it’s important to not support these companies. If you don’t believe in their message, it is hypocritical to endorse them. Whether or not girlcotting makes an actual difference in the amount of money going into these sexist’s pockets, it’s important that you stay consistent. Being a feminist can sometimes involve a lot of sacrifices, especially when it comes to approval from your friends. In the end, you have to decide whether a shopping trip is actually worth compromising your beliefs.

  • Emma @ at 8:13 pm, July 22nd, 2011

    I was at A+F the other day, not knowing any of this at the time, other than the sexist ads. I didn’t buy anything, and am now officially girlcotting Abercrombie and Fitch. I’ll tell my friends, too.

  • Renee @ at 1:17 pm, August 9th, 2011

    I find it silly to call this girlcotting when boycotting is a gender fucking neutral term (actually it’s a last name belonging to Captain Charles Boycott) if as femenist we are suppst to be tearing down the walls between men and women why are we so quick to make up our own “girl power” terms frankly I find it hard to take people serious when they do that

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