Commentary

How low can they go?

I was recently taken aback while strolling through the mall to see on a black t-shirt with all large pink lettering — “Every Damn Day, Just Do It.” This was prominently displayed in the front window at the Lady Footlocker store. The shirt was a Nike product taken to the next level to get attention. It got mine.

Upon expressing concern to the store worker, he noted a large store ad that went even further over the line. It was a photo of a woman, clothed in black panties, wearing Reebok athletic shoes while holding on to a vacuum cleaner. It was an ad for Reebok Reetone. And the print ad is modest in comparison to Reebok’s video commercials featuring the curvy Kelly Brook. The storekeeper reminded me that sex sells, and his store was by no means the only one utilizing this tactic.

Daniel Johnson

A couple of years back, I was at the mall when, in the Express store window, I saw a larger than life poster of a well-endowed woman in her undergarments. The ad simply read “Pussycat by day; Tiger by night.” I was shopping with my wife and daughter and kept moving by. The following day I went back to confront the store manager. She noted how Victoria’s Secret pushed the envelope even further, to which I retorted, “Is this a race to the bottom?” Her only response was to hand me a postcard that I was to mail in to the corporate office, which I did. I’m pleased to report that I’ve not seen such inappropriate advertising while walking past the store since.

Consumers can encourage more respectable behavior from corporate giants such as these. David did his work with a slingshot; shoppers can take on these giants with a letter, e-mail, and/or visit with the store manager. Let stores know it when they cross over the civility line by producing provocative/offensive products or advertising.

The Cherish our Children ministry, www.cherishchildren.org, is a Lutheran nonprofit that is taking on the commoditization of people as sexual objects. As believers in the fellowship of humankind, when we fail to treat people with dignity and respect, we fail to honor their maker. While many in Lutheran congregations struggle with a few issues around human sexuality, most can agree that children or young adults should not be sexually exploited.

The American anthropologist Margaret Mead gives us all encouragement to take action. She noted, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Join with others in changing the world one visit, one e-mail, or one letter at a time.

Is it Lady or Tramp Footlocker? Your actions can help decide.

Dan Johnson is a member of Valley of Peace Lutheran Church (ELCA), Golden Valley, Minnesota. He recently completed a 27-year ministry with the Kinship mentoring program. Follow Johnson’s other writing on his blog: http://savoringservant.blogspot.com/.

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