Ask Mrs. Vera: Will you be shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

Will you be shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch?

Michael Stanton Jeffries

Mrs. Vera Newman having eaten, well, we won't say.

Mrs. Vera Newman,
San Francisco, California
Photo: Vinc LeVinc

Hello my loyal readers, this week’s column, for once, is a true manners bonanza, and not just because I found an old Michael Landon hair or eleven in the chicken soup I ate last night, alone, over the sink, from the can, with my fingers. I’ve had that can since 1971, and it was way better than the Tomato soup that smelled like Lorne Greene. Both from when I played Anxious Lady in Hat #3 at the zenith of my television career.

No, all of us who work here at Ask Mrs. Vera, Inc. are thrilled to be talked down to this week by none other than Michael Stanton Jeffries, the Big B.O. of Abnercrowsfeets and Glitch, the legendary purveyor of the waspy ideal of underaged, eroticized emaciation that every girl should strive to embody, thinly, by purchasing and getting the seller’s permission to wear in public the skimpy “clothing” that won’t make their butts look big to that cute guy rolling around in the surf all day with his eight amazingly hot buddies.

Well, Mr. Stanton-Jeffries writes in to ask if I’ll be shopping at A+F soon, or ever again, and assures me that he is not creating a master anti-Santa list of forbidden shoppers excluded from making purchases in the land of beige and denim cut off things, because, he promises, famous people can be as fat as their piggy old hearts allow them to grossly be, including you my dear, he snorted in our interview before tossing a freshly dug truffle off of his dirt-covered snout high into the air before letting it fall straight down his tan and pampered gullet. Then, wiping the sheen off the cosmetically altered, drum-like contours of where his face used to be, he stated he would happily <burp> he would gladly answer my questions, and he proceeded to do so rather breathlessly whenever his huge masseusse (nurse?) would let go of the handful of Mr. Stanton-Jeffries’s skin she was pulling, hard, into a wad at the back of the scalp before injecting the lump with botox and adding more duct tape.

When asked if he could understand why some people were upset at the shallowness of objectifying sexually the bodies of young girls in order to sell them dinky rags you might catch pneumonia with just by wearing them, he smiled (I’m guessing) and said that the bodies of men were equally worth objectifying, which I pointed out was not exactly an argument against the sense of perverted, creepy voyeurism and exploitation of the beauty of youth that many people perceive, like stinky fish odor, dog doo-doo or tingling Spidey-sense lines, whenever they see images of the golden, pouty, windblown beach children you never see anywhere but in those ads. “Nonsense,” he replied, “how could anyone object to being objectified sexually if they are sufficiently hot?”  “Like you are?” I inquired, but all I got was a bit of dead-eye for that question.

I tried to draw him into a deeper conversation about the unrealistic expectations his mise-en-scene embodied, and the risk it posed to the mental and physical health of the young girls and women attracted to the brand’s cache, and the negative body image stereotypes it reinforced that are a serious problem many women struggle with throughout their lives. “Many unattractive women,” he corrected me with a condescending finger wag, while re-eating a part of an avocado he just barfed up.

His point seemed to be that just as Lane Bryant exists to cater to lovely curvaceous full-figured women, his store pretends to be glamorous by catering to slender girls willing to starve themselves for a man’s approval, even before puberty, and that there isn’t anything wrong at all in making a fortune off those insecurities. When I asked why women’s sizes stopped at 10 (An A+F 10 is like an anywhere else 6, I’m told) but men’s sizes still go up to XXL, I got another long taste of that dead-eye thing.

He said, darkly, “Look, you old bag, with your wrinkles and sags, if I make my graphic knotted cut-off sleeveless miniblouse tankette or g-string shorts with sparkle-blinged gusset appliques in size 22, how many of those am I gonna sell?  Four?  That stuff looks good on a hanger, or a stick.  I’m running a business selling rags to sticks, comprende?”

I’ll admit he had a point there, as well as a booger in his nose, at least business-wise. Very few normal sized women are willing to starve themselves, at the risk of their health, to the point where those clothes fit once they have realized that the only people who live on a beach year round in a wet bra are the homeless.  Yet younger girls and women often lack this insight.  Sadly, wearing clothes that piss off adults, because they piss off adults, is a time-honored and irresistible goal of teenagerdom, measured solely by the success of wearing something no adult could ever comfortably fit in, having already damaged beyond repair their bodies decades ago wearing the impossible fashions of their own youth.

I look forward to the day when what A+F excels at simply falls out of style, as all teen must-haves inevitably do, becoming as sad as Jon Gosselin wearing Ed Hardy trying to pick up random Lohans with a Chihuahua in his mouth. I wish them the starched rigidity of their CEO’s face in being unable to adapt to the changing market of the future, one that no longer tells girls they need to look like eleven year old boys in order to appeal to men. What’s that about, anyhow? Weird, right?

And anyway, I never shop for clothes in stores whose CEO’s names sound like it might be a brand of paint, an insurance company or a riding mower. Stanton Jeffries Por la Kitchen, or painted on a back-hoe; I might give a try.


Vera with toys and greensMrs. Vera Newman is a San Francisco absurdist character, humorist, artist, writer, community organizer, clothes horse and co-founder, with Mister Tina, of The Verasphere. She has been answering the unasked questions she receives from the lonely, empty rooms of America’s heart-shaped circulatory pump room ever since it began beating. Nestled in the politically bent bowels of the Nation since she was a young girl babysitting the very same newborn Nation, her ability to self-reflect about anyone else’s embarrassing shortcomings, inept fumblings or lousy recipes has enabled her invisible rise as a modern-day Cassandra, whatever that means. Feel free to dispose of all your worries by leaving them on her doorstep!


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