Branded

As a parent, on those occasions when your children make a good decision all on their own, it warms the cockles of your heart. In our family, we have four kids. Our oldest, Landon, will be turning twenty this year. It makes my fingers cramp up to type that. Where did the time go? Matthew and I have found these teen years to be the most enjoyable years of our parenting career. I’m not saying they have been the easiest, but they have been the most enjoyable. Watching our kids grow into their adult skins has been an event to watch. We like what we see so far.

In our family, Landon has had great influence on his younger siblings. It’s not a role he has always enjoyed, but the fact remains. When Landon became an adolescent, he suddenly decided he would make a statement with his clothing and his hair. A lot of kids do this. Sometimes it’s not always good. Landon, thankfully, has good taste. I take full credit for that one.

One of the decisions Landon made early on in his clothing choices was that he would not be hung up on branding. (This was a great relief to my budget!) He would refuse to wear anything with a label that showed. He was more interested in the look of the clothing than what name it bore. Even if he liked the style, if the designer had placed his insignia anywhere visible, back on the rack it went. He was not going to be a walking billboard for some guy to make more money off of him. While my wallet was happy about this, my heart was, too. This was a decision based on depth of thought and consideration. It was a good sign.

The rest of my kids have followed suit. You won’t find a label visible on any of their clothing. I recently bought a pair of Sanuk tennis shoes for myself. I got them at a deep discount and was pleased with my find. They were cute, and comfy, and cheap. Triple plus. I brought them home in the bag and left them in the den. The next day, I see on Twitter that my daughter has worn my new shoes to school. She thought they had been bought for her… and she had cut the little green Sanuk tags off the shoes.

We are a brand conscious society. We pay big bucks to carry around someone else’s name on our clothes, shoes, purses, etc. We think it says something about us to the world. “Look! I can afford this! Look! This makes me more acceptable!” Some of us like to say that we are willing to pay for better quality. Well, get this. My father-in-law once traveled abroad, and visited a factory where many of the clothes you and I wear are made. He saw them placing the labels on the clothes. The same clothes, made in the same factory were receiving different branding labels. The same clothes. The prices attached to the clothes would depend on what labels were attached.

Consumerism is out of control. The pressure to carry around certain labels enslaves us all to debt, but it enslaves us to more than that. It enslaves us to the public persona we think we have to uphold and pull off. Who are we trying to impress, really? Most of the time the people we want most to impress aren’t even the people we really like.

Abercrombie and Fitch has come under fire recently for their CEO, Mike Jeffries’, remarks about who they want shopping in their stores. They want only the pretty people, only the cool kids to wear their clothing. They feel that if you want to be a cool kid, you have to look a certain way, and have their name embroidered across your chest. Have you been in their stores? You won’t find a t-shirt without their name in large print on it. I asked once if they had any v-neck t-shirts without their name on them, and the sales girl couldn’t believe I was being serious.

They won’t sell female clothing in a size larger than a size large. I’m really shocked in this age of anti bullying that the CEO was willing to go there, publically. Surely he had to know the outcry would be great.

Well, the company has finally gone public with an apology. Big deal. The cat is already out of the bag. They may have to change their sizing, but I doubt seriously that their true feelings on the matter have changed. It’s all about damage control now. It’s all about money, always has been. They want our money. I guess now they’ll even take money from larger folks. Money’s money, right?

We have fallen captive to the lie that says when we buy these things it makes us better somehow. Except it really only makes guys like Mike Jeffries richer.

I am proud of the decisions like this that my kids are making. I am proud that they have eyes to see truth, and it is reflected in them. I want them to be labeled by the way they live their lives rather than the labels they wear on their clothing. I want people to look at my kids and see Jesus. That’s a brand we all should want to wear.

So what do you think?

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