As you may have gathered from my reference to Disneyland the other day, we’ve been visiting Southern California, where we have family. (Very nice family, I might add.) In addition to Disneyland and the family stuff, my husband took my star struck almost-teen daughter to the Grove Shopping Center, because she might see a star there. We didn’t see stars there, but I was very struck by the Grove. I’ve never had a more over the top shopping experience, with ordinary stores (Gap, Barnes & Noble, Apple) battling each other for hedonistic supremacy.
The store that made me freak out, though, was the Abercrombie store. I have to start by saying that I loath Abercrombie. I loath the soft porn advertisements, the loud music, the high prices, and the foul perfume (unisex, of course), that wafts through the ventilation system. As my husband says, that store is parent repellent. To my daughter, it’s “heaven.”
What troubled me about the Abercrombie at the Grove is that it has live models manning the floors — both boys and girls. One of the young men was shirtless, and another had his shirt entirely open. I have to say as a preface that I’m no prude. One of the reasons I like the dojo (yes, here comes the dirty old lady confession) is that I get to see truly beautiful male bodies (waist up only, of course). When the guys are really overheated after a hard workout, they’ll sometimes strip off their shirts and, wow!, some of them look fabulous. They have real muscles that they’ve earned through hard work and healthy living. They’re genuine warriors. They can make those muscles work.
At Abercrombie, however, the muscles on these young men existed only for show. It is conceivable, of course, that all or some of these young men were Scott Browns — driven people who, blessed with a good face and body, use their looks to finance more meaningful careers — but there was something about their faces that seemed to negate this thought. Unless they were being willfully blank for show, these guys were nothing more than LA pretty boys, whose raison d’etre was the pursuit of “the look.” And I found that terribly embarrassing. Seeing men stripped of their manliness this way made me as uncomfortable as I would have been if they’d stripped down entirely in the middle of a grocery store. It was just wrong.