Well, well, well, how is this for irony? Abercrombie & Fitch is offering up a scholarship to graduating high school students. The only thing your teenager needs to do? Write an essay on diversity and its importance in the 21st century.
Got that, folks? CEO Mike Jeffries and his clothing store chain don't believe in making clothes for fat people, but they want to be sure our kids understand it's important to embrace diversity!
The first question on the Abercrombie scholarship application?
Define what the term "diversity" means to you and explore its place in the 21st century. How does your appreciation of diversity empower you in your future educational and career goals, or in other words, how it can help you grow as an individual?
Welcome to another dose of mixed messages for our kids, courtesy of the corner of the mall known best for its sky high prices and the cloying scent of condescension in the air (or is that patchouli?)!
Think fast: is this the place you want helping to shape your kid's vision of the future? A place where they talk diversity out of one side of the mouth, all the while looking down their noses at near half of the population?
Diversity IS an important concept for kids to wrap their heads around, especially as they prepare to leave the safety and security of their homes and the small high schools where they've been pretty average sized fish flipping their fins around the pond. But perhaps the hardest part of teaching kids to embrace diversity is in teaching them that we don't get to make exceptions just because something -- or really, someone -- makes us uncomfortable.
CEO Jeffries' controversial comments made abundantly clear earlier this year that he gets the heebie jeebies over a little bit of belly fat, and he's let that fear leak over into the marketplace. He's made a practice of picking and choosing which bits of people are OK and which he'd just rather not see.
That's not embracing diversity. That's not moving forward in the 21st century. That's not GOOD for our kids. And a handful of $1,000 checks for smart kids who took the time their hearts into essays isn't going to change that.
You can't throw money at kids to make them better people.
You need to set aside your own prejudices (because yes, we all have them) to help our kids be better people. It's not easy. But it's their only chance of being a better generation than the ones that came before ... a generation where difference doesn't matter, be it different skin color or different number on the scale.
Would you let your kid apply for the Abercrombie scholarship? Does it make you feel any better about your kids buying their clothes?
Image via OregonDOT/Flickr