'Alex From Target'​ Is a Victim: The Conversation No One Is Having

Alex From TargetIf you haven't heard of Alex From Target, er #AlexFromTarget, yet, allow me to introduce you. Alex Lee is a 16-year-old who went to work at his after-school job one day and -- thanks to a teenage girl who uploaded his photo to Twitter -- became a viral meme.

The Internet adores him. Ellen DeGeneres has had him on her show.

And if he were a girl, we would be outraged.

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Oh, sure, there would be plenty of folks out there drooling over a picture of a 16-year-old "Alexandra," the hot checkout girl at the SuperTarget. But mothers of daughters everywhere -- moms like me -- would be outraged that a 16-year-old girl was being objectified by the Internet, reduced to nothing more than a hot piece of ass. We'd call them out for being lewd and rude, and we'd be absolutely within our rights to do so.

Internet? I'm the mother of a girl, not a boy, and yet ... I'm objecting to the response to "Alex," not "Alexandra," because if I don't, what does it say about how my daughter could be treated?

Alex Lee seems to be a very nice young man, at least from the profile in The New York Times that dubbed him a "sweet kid." It described his jump from 144 Twitter followers to more than 100,000 (a number that's since gone up five-fold) and the young girls showing up at his workplace to giggle and take his photo.

But it's not the fact that Alex plays soccer or that he kindly shares his food with his girlfriend that has the paparazzi clamoring, has advertising deals being proffered.

It's because Alex is -- to quote countless Twitter and Tumblr mentions -- "cute," "adorable," "yuuuuum."

And as a good feminist and mother both, I object.

I object to treating a 16-year-old boy -- however willing he might be -- to nothing more than his looks. I object to a world where we're finally (finally!) realizing that our daughters are more than some T&A but still find it OK to treat our boys as such.

Equality doesn't mean swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction, folks. It means finding the happy medium. And treating a 16-year-old boy like he's nothing more than a sum of his parts is no middle ground. We feminists don't "win" anything when it's a young boy being treated poorly.

If anything, society loses, because this is what we've done to a child. We've made his looks into something to be celebrated and taught a child (yes, 16 is still childhood in America) that what's inside doesn't matter but what's outside does .... hot damn!

If we're honest with ourselves, any kid -- even a "hot" 16-year-old boy -- should be off limits. And the #AlexFromTarget meme should bother us too. Because that's what equality means, that's what protecting our kids means.

Check him out on Ellen -- now imagine he's a girl. What changes?

 


Image via Alex From Target/YouTube

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