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March 11, 2008

 

Contact: Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh<at>commercialfreechildhood.org)   

 

For Immediate Release 

 

 

 

Advocates for Children Decry Abercrombie & Fitch

 Naming Rights at Children’s Hospital

Public Health Institutions Should Not Promote Companies That Sexualize Children

 

Citing the harmful effects of sexualized marketing and clothing on children, dozens of pediatricians, psychologists, and other advocates for children are urging Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus not to name its new Emergency Department and Trauma Center after Abercrombie & Fitch.  The hospital has granted naming rights to Abercrombie in exchange for a $10 million donation.  A letter written and organized by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and sent today to hospital officials urges the hospital to rescind the naming rights because of Abercrombie’s long history of using highly sexualized images to market its brand to teens and preteens and selling clothing that objectifies and demeans young people.

 

“When it comes to marketing to children, A&F is among the worst corporate predators,” said CCFC’s director Dr. Susan Linn, a psychologist at Judge Baker Children's Center and author of Consuming Kids.  “They have built their brand by sexualizing and objectifying children both through their advertising and their clothing.  A company with such cynical disregard for children’s wellbeing shouldn’t be able to claim the mantle of healing.”

 

Abercrombie & Fitch is one of the most popular brands with preteens, yet the company routinely includes nudity and explicit sexual situations in its advertising and its clothing often objectifies or demeans young people.  In 2002, the company sold thongs for 10-year-olds with "eye candy" and "wink wink" printed on the front.   In 2003, Abercrombie was the target of boycotts and protests when its catalog featured young people engaging in group sex.   The company was also the target of protests for selling shirts that demeaned Chinese-Americans through the use of racist caricatures.   One current Abercrombie website promoting its Gilly Hicks line features graphic nudity, boasting “(o)ur site shows a lot of skin.” 

 

The role of advertising – like Abercrombie’s – that features impossibly thin and idealized body types in fostering eating disorders is well-documented.  Research links sexualization with some of the most pressing and common mental health problems of girls including eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression.

 

"There's a disconnect here. A&F advertising and products would seem to contribute to the sexualization of children and objectification of teens and yet they want us to believe they are interested in their health." said Dr. Sharon Lamb, a member of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls .  "If Abercrombie wants to earn respect, their philanthropy should be accompanied by an end to their exploitative marketing."

 

CCFC’s letter was signed by more than eighty individuals including Carden Johnston, MD, Past President of the  American Academy of Pediatrics; Victor Strasburger, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at University of New Mexico School of Medicine; Dr. Lamb, Tomi-Ann Roberts,  Deborah Tolman, and Eileen Zurbriggen, of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Children; and Diane Levin and Jean Kilborne, authors of So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood.  The letter was also endorsed by fifteen organizations, including the National Institute on Media and the Family, Dads and Daughters, and the Eating Disorders & Education Network

 

“It's time for pediatricians to stand tall against the barrage of advertising to children by rejecting corporate funding for the naming of children's hospitals,” said Dr. Victor Strasburger.  “Philanthropy by big business is laudable – and children's hospitals are among the most deserving of recipients – but it shouldn't have to come with a price tag of getting your business' name on a hospital building.  And children's hospitals should think long and hard about the impact of naming buildings after businesses which aren't always scrupulously ethical in their own advertising practices to young people.”

 

The complete text of CCFC’s letter can be found at http://commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/childrenshospitalletter.pdf.

Take Action!

Tell A&F: No Naming Rights at Children's Hospital

 

A&F Timeline

Learn about A&F's controversial history

 

 

Press

 
 

 

Cut Abercrombie name from ER, advocates say

AP, 3/11/08

 

When a Corporate Donation Raises Protests

New York Times, 3/12/08

 

Abercrombie & Fitch ads hit

Boston Herald, 3/13/08

 

Children's Hospital in Hot Water Over Corporate Sponsorships

Advertising Age, 3/12/08

 

 

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