Mary Birdsong


Ignorant shopping was such bliss, wasn’t it?  Back in the day when you could order a chicken sandwich and NOT have it be a political act?  It was just a chicken sandwich– didn’t taste republican OR democratic.  It tasted…. well, it kinda just tasted like chicken.  Then Chic-Fil-A happened.

Buying food was probably one of the first consumer acts to lose the blush of it’s blissful ignorance and become politicized.  (I swear- even as a kid growing up in the groovy seventies- if I heard that someone’s mom was a vegetarian or owned a “health food store” I equated them with communism.  Even though I didn’t really even know what communism was.)  That trend of partisan shopping, still in it’s infancy back in the 70’s, seems to be spreading faster than the waistlines of those chicken sandwich-consuming consumers.  And now that it’s spread all the way to my favorite retail fashion chains, it feels like a gal has nowhere to turn.

Does this banner make my butt look fat?

At least with food you can grow your own, or shop at a farmer’s market.  But I can’t grow my own corduroy peplum jackets and silver-studded leather belts in a community garden.  I guess I could finally learn how to use that mysterious machine in the corner of my apartment.  (I’ve heard rumors it can be used to construct garments, but I read a few lines in it’s manual and I don’t buy it.  I believe all the outlandish claims in my sewing machine’s manual about as much as I believe Obama’s so-called “birth certificate.”)  Besides, even if I did learn how to sew my own adorable clothes, I struggle so much with low self-esteem that, knowing me, I’d probably impose awful working conditions on myself at the Birdsong Garment Workers sweatshop.  Remember that 1911 fire in the  Triangle Shirtwaist Factory where all those seamstresses plunged to their death? That ain’t nothin’.  

Seamstresses in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. They were even denied the right to keep their cell phones on their sewing tables!

The politics of our purchases are becomingly increasingly restrictive– touching on everything from donuts to duvets.  And it doesn’t just hurt my wallet. It hurts my HEART.  It hurts my
“deep-down-I’m-a-girly-girl-who-still-just-wants-to-play-dress-up-and-throw-spontaneous-tea-parties-with-my-china-dolls-and-my-two-cats” heart.  Especially when it comes to stores like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Free People.



I swear I have wept in Anthropologie’s  back room of “clearance” items from the sheer joy of so many textiles crammed into one small room.  The ambiance in their stores makes me feel complete; whole; at one with retail. The items that make me weep from joy are almost always the whimsical non-necessities.  I mean, where’s the fun in shopping for stuff you NEED? Borrrrring. It’s the things I DON’T need that define me:

  • Quirky, vintage-inspired sundresses with that illusive fedgy* quality
  • Charming little thirty-five dollar teacups w/bluebirds on them, so dainty they’d probably shatter in a strong wind
  • Hefty antique doorknobs made of gorgeous colored glass that will never ever serve any function on any door known to man (believe me, I’ve tried)

  • The shopping experience at Anthropologie was more than just shopping.  At times the experience bordered on the spiritual. I felt like this store “got me.”  They didn’t just offer me accessories.  They saw into my soul. Browsing their goods for years now, feeling at one with my fellow left-wing, artsy shoppers, the hardwood floors creaking beneath our feet, it was a retail dreamland- and I bought it hook line and…

  • Professional, two-faced STINKER, Richard Hayne- owner of Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Rick Santorum.








Dear Mr. Hayne:  you may as well start marketing your stores as Halloween costume outlets, cuz the jig is UP, seeeee?  You can’t pass your stores off as one of my cool friends anymore and then hit the golf course with Santorum.  My eyes have been opened, so my wallet must close. Anthropologie, UrbanOutfitters, & Free People- you are not the lefty-hipsters you have pretended to be.  So stop dressing the part while you secretly hate on gays & women by taking the cash I give you and donating it to people who fight to keep gay marriage rights out of reach, and propagate ridiculous dogma about how women should accept their “rape babies” as “gifts from G-d.”

Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters & Free People (or as the regulars call them- “Anthro, UO & Free Peeps”) turned out to be a far cry from the image it likes to project.  I liken these stores to the flirty, ironic, bearded guy at a party who turns out to be nothing more than a manipulative addict.   It says all the right things.  It carries all the right belts and leggings and hats.  It tells me what I want to hear, and shows me the store I want it to be, while secretly plotting it’s “fundamentalism through fashion retail” agenda.  It all looked so beautiful and so… so LEFT, that I opened my wallet and shut my eyes to their  occasional “indiscretions.”

And what are those indiscretions?   What is the dirty little secret these stores have struggled to keep inside their corporate headquarters like a chubby fashionista trying to keep her ass in a pair of size 4 skinny jeans?

I’d long heard rumblings of some strangely out-of-character political leanings attributed to the big-wigs  (mainly Richard Hayne) behind this trendy triumvirate, but I just pretended I didn’t  hear them, flipped through another rack of kitschy skirts, and let my eyes glaze over like a chain-smoking, gossiping grandma at a slot machine.

It couldn’t be true.

Could it?


But what if it– Ooh look! Corduroy bow-ties with little donkeys on them– gorge!

Well, I’ll just pay for these $85 socks and as SOON as I get home I’m going to type that nasty rumor about those stores into that website.

THAT website!

YOU knowwwww.




Right, right, that’s the one. Hey, be a love and hand me those crushed velvet tap pants? The fours, not the sixes. GOD, don’t you LOVE how BIG the sizes run here at Anthro? I feel positively anorexic in these dressing rooms. It’s like the WHOLE STORE is just one big fabulous codependent gay guy telling me:
A) Your butt looks FIERCE in those palazzo pants, and
B) So what if it’s not on sale?  Bitch, please.  You DESERVE to spend a measly little $68 on a headband or two.

Well stop talking to me like that, you guys! I’ve done my Snopely duty. The retro Jackie O. pillbox hat with the crinoline veil has been lifted. The truth? She is out.  What is that truth?  I can sum it up in two words that may ring a bell. You ready?



That’s right! I said it! Sweater vest. You Santorum lovin’, sweater-vest wearin’, gay-hatin’ PHONIES! What do you have to say for yourselves?  If stores could talk, I’m sure Anthro & Urban Outfitters and Free People would say…

Urban Outfitters: It ain’t true, baby! I tell ya it just ain’t TRUE!

Me: No, I’m done. It’s OVER–

Free People: Don’t throw it all away like this angel!  Hey… heyyyy, babe…. look at this new blue dress with the ruching at the waist I just got for ya.  Nice, huh?    I tell ya, you’ll be a KNOCKOUT wearin’ this little sexy number.  A real knockout!

Me: Stop it!  Stop seducing me like this!  It’s true, I love your clothes!  I don’t WANT to quit you.  But  unless I DO, I just won’t be able to look myself in the mirror anymore, especially if that mirror is in one of your well-appointed fitting rooms… with those comfy chaise lounges and chandeliers…

Anthropologie: But what about all that stuff I still got on layaway for us? Don’t that mean NOTHIN’ to ya?

Broadway playwright, Clifford Odets. Listen, here, you! I'm tellin' ya de troof, doll! Dat dress DON'T make your butt look fat! Not no way, not no how, seeeee? Myeah, mynah...

(I’ve NO idea why I’ve decided that these stores, could they speak, would sound like a character from a 1930s Clifford Odets play.  And if ANYone reading this even knows who Odets is, I will give you my Forever 21 gift card I got on my 41st birthday.  But it might only have like, twelve bucks left on it.)  The good news is that, unlike Anthropologie, you can get an entire spring wardrobe at Forever 21 with twelve bucks. In fact, whenever I have been at the Grove shopping center in Hollywood, and found myself sucked into Anthropologie’s orgy of overpriced doo-dads, like a junkie looking for my fashion-fix, the much cheaper Forever 21 directly across the Grove’s cobblestone, Disney-esque, faux “street” became my methidone to Anthro’s higher-priced heroine.  I could pop in to Forever 21, buy a cute blouse for next to nothing, and feel good as new!

P.S. If anyone reading this should catch me shopping at any of the above-mentioned, Hayne-owned stores, you have full permission to walk right up to me, slap me in the face, and say “You should be ashamed of yourself!” Then take me to the nearest Forever 21.  But remind me to follow up on that investigation being done on Forever 21 by the Los Angeles Dept. of Labor for alleged “sweatshop-like factories” in the Los Angeles area.

* Fedgy [‘feh-je]: adj. Possessing the opposing qualities of femininity and edginess simultaneously, usually applied to a lady’s garment.  (one part feminine plus one part edgy = fedgy, e.g. “Ooooh, those burlap-strap wedgies with the peekaboo lace inserts in the toe are GORGE!  Super-fedgy, riiiiight? Lo-ove!”)

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