15% Pledge

Aurora James, founder of “sustainable retail” store Brother Vellies in Brooklyn, New York launched the Fifteen Percent Pledge on May 31, 2020. A “You asked how you can help. This is your opportunity.” social media campaign aimed at large market share retailers in America. The likes of Whole Foods, Home Depot, Target, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barnes and Noble. In total, calling on ten mega retailers to rethink business strategies and marketing to include 15% of shelf space allotted to black owned enterprises. Why 15%? Approximately 15% of U.S. citizens are black. All ten declined,  preferring to focus on their own “racial diversity measures.”

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Fifteen percent pledge momentum blossomed without help from corporate behemoths. In June Sephora stood in line, followed by Vogue magazine and countless online fashion, health and wellness retailers. Make no mistake, fifteen percent is building steam. Fair enough, but am I the only one who sees misplaced red flags?

Fact – racism is rampant, black Americans are twice as likely to contract coronavirus than their white neighbors, 40% of businesses closed due to COVID-19 were owned by black Americans, compared to 32% Latino and 16% white businesses. Awareness, dialogue, equality are fine and dandy, but it’s a slippery slope when these initiatives serve as feel good substitutes for fundamental change.

The fifteen percent pledge is a band aid. White participants mean well, they’re pleased with themselves, subscribe to social media trends of the moment. Fifteen percent pledges are a marketing banner. Sales spike with every law enforcement murder of a black citizen, fall when protest subsides. Sure, a handful of black entrepreneurs might benefit in the short term, but how does that combat racism?

Blacks don’t want fifteen percent pledges, they want equal rights. They want equal opportunity based on merit, not skin tone. Those with red hair, freckled white skin and green eyes are no different from persons with tightly curled locks and dark pigmentation. Latino or South Asian citizens aren’t privy to fifteen percent pledge initiatives, so why blacks? Why not aboriginal citizens or non-Christian immigrants? Sigh.


Walmart Canada Fashion For Little Girls

A Surrey, B.C. father wanted a summer dress for his five year old daughter. He landed on Walmart Canada website, searched “summer clothes for kids” and found this –

Unfortunate mix-up? Nope! Well maybe, but still absurd. Headline reads “Summer Style Children Dress Off Shoulder Dress Striped Dresses for Little Girls”. “Features” read – “has a design that is very sexy for little girls. Great for party, beach, festival etc. Suitable for girls aged 3 – 8. Stylish and unique design will make your kids more attractive.” WTF?

Surrey dad shocked after ‘sexy’ fishnet one-piece listed under kids’ section on Walmart website

Walmart declined to comment, but has since removed the item from their site.

Return Burn

I’m not much of a online shopper, but time restraints in early December led to ordering boots online. They were expensive, ordered directly from the manufacturer and arrived promptly. They might have been out of box for two minutes, tried them on, didn’t like the fit, registered a return online, printed a pre-paid return label, dropped them off at UPS a few days later. An effortless process, out of sight, out of mind, not out of pocket another cent.

A few days later my husband mentioned an article he read explaining what actually happens to online returns. Nowhere in internet retailer fine print does it say “returned goods will be incinerated or dumped in a landfill”. My heart sank, grappling with realization I’d unknowingly contributed to a shadowy behemoth environmental calamity.

Roughly 40% of online purchases are returned. In Canada alone, an estimated $46 billion in goods were returned in 2019. That’s a 95% increase in the last five years, a staggering spike resulting in drastic measures. Bottom line – major retailers can’t be bothered to inspect, re-package or return to inventory the mountain of customer returns. To do so would require scores of additional employees, bottom lines deem it cost effective to incinerate or dump most apparel returns in landfills.

Bracketing is common practice of savvy online shoppers – free returns mean buying a small, medium and large, keeping what fits and returning the other two guarantees a garment that fits. How many know returned garments are dumped in landfills?

Upscale retailer Burberry and retail brand H&M admit to incinerating merchandise in order to maintain brand perception. Perish the thought “wrong people” could diminish their brand if clothing was donated to charity. Not only is the practice disturbing, environmental impacts are staggering.

Had I known my ill fitting boots were destined for the dump, chances are I’d have donated them to charity or consigned them to a second hand store.


Plastic Ponder

Sometimes I write opinions or stories I’ve pondered; other times, uninvited thoughts dance between my ears demanding attention. Happily brushing my teeth, thinking of nothing except curling up under the covers, I was assaulted with the concept of a world without plastic surgery.

Imagine for a moment – no breast augmentation, tummy tucks, lipo – suction, nose jobs or face lifts. Muscle inhibiting Botox injections, eye lifts, teeth whitening, lip re-shaping, vein stripping, and laser hair removal – all gone. Ponder a world where beauty wasn’t a “standard” dictated by media and fashion houses. A world where people weren’t “flawed”, a place where armies of size 2 “fembots” didn’t greet you at every turn.

Plastic conformity is so commonplace we hardly bat an eye – perhaps Botox renders the task impossible. Children’s beauty pageants are jaw dropping surrealism at its finest. Kids not old enough to tie their shoes, paraded across a stage in full make-up, tangerine spray tans forcing fake eyelashes and prosthetic teeth to jostle for attention. Little girls “coached”  to dance, gyrate and behave like pop stars. Mothers scolding them for not smiling enough, forgetting to make eye contact with the judges, or being overwhelmed by pressure. Misguided concepts of self worth before the little darlings even start school.

Teenagers turn to cosmetic procedures to “fit in”, many companies request a “head-shot” when sending a resume, promotions go to employees whose photo will look pleasing on company web pages or facebook accounts. Only the “beautiful people” greet you in restaurants, bars and retail establishments. Any person hired for a position with public contact has to be aesthetically pleasing.

Dentists used to do dentistry, now they whiten teeth and are licensed to inject Botox. The drop in medical clinic in my neighbourhood keeps patients waiting for an eternity for 5 minutes with a doctor – who then limits “concerns” to one or two – yet has a swanky cosmetic practice, advertising laser treatments and Botox solutions. Yep, that will make you feel better. A friend asked a doctor at this clinic for a pap test – he responded “we don’t know each other well enough for that” and ushered her out the door – my guess is he would have found time if her cervix needed a little Botox.

Ponder a world without cosmetic assimilation; a world free to focus on merit rather than plastic perfection. Ponder a world without ever having the concept of surgical alterations. When I think of this world, I think of how beautiful “imperfection” can be. Trying to picture my grandmother’s face, her skin stretched like a tanned hide, or myself with breast implants is appalling. Raging vanity serves no purpose other than to further separate the haves from the have nots. Those who can afford “procedures” thrive, while those of meagre means better hope mother nature was good to them.

Vanity is at the core of what makes us human. I wrote this post last year, referring to “vanity” as the point at which mankind truly arrived…


Ponder a world without plastic people, a world exquisitely flawed, where ageing wasn’t viewed as an assault to the senses. Without face lifts or Botox, we could once again discover the beauty of years. Antiques are valued for their patina, people should be the same. Visualize beauty pageants replaced by blind interviews, or essay submissions – ponder “Miss Universe” chosen for her mind. Think of young women with self esteem; women spared grotesque messages that a D cup under a tight sweater takes them places. Imagine what we could accomplish if not inundated with  pressure to conform – pressure to become  plastic replicas simply because society has lost its mind.

A world without cosmetic surgery is just the beginning. Far from being a serious suggestion – for fun, imagine an election where the candidate was never seen, only heard. Lets say a Republican running in Louisiana – debates, interviews all blind. Voters are saying – where has this person been, this is the person who can get things done. When the win is a landslide, their identity is revealed. Not wanting to offend anyone, I’ll leave images of race and appearance to your imagination. In a million years this person wouldn’t have been elected if seen.

Mankind is stuck with several unfortunate qualities, there isn’t a lot we can do about vanity. That said – a world without cosmetic enhancements would be a far batter place. Plastic people are far from attractive; beauty is found in character and nuances, rather than desperate replication or sad attempts at cheating time.

Photo by Arjun Bagga at Wetstreet https://www.facebook.com/Wetstreet

Blame MTV

If I had to draw a reality line in the sand , I would place it squarely at the doorstep of MTV in 1992. The Real World experiment gave birth to what has become “reality TV”. They deserve a pat on the back for breaking ground, no doubt about it , they paved the way for declining morals, GPA’s, and ethics.

I remember when MTV aired nothing but music videos and Mark Burnett produced an obscure program called Eco Challenge. I doubt even the most visionary MTV executive imagined the implications of letting Pandora out of her box. They paved the way for young people to grow up with misguided expectations, unrealistic goals, bat shit logic regarding consequences or responsibility, and reverence for the cult of celebrity. MTV made it possible for anyone to become a celebrity – they launched the age of “surreal” reality.

“Reality” tested the waters with vacant rich kids like Paris Hilton attempting to live a normal life. It gave birth to the Kardashion dynasty, “real” housewives, and Bachelorettes. Soon we were laughing at “Joe Average” as producers duped him into believing audiences weren’t mocking his stupidity. Washed up rockers Flavour Flav and Brett Michaels found “love”, geeks were put on display in Beauty and the Geek.  Real life apparently involves the privileged becoming richer, while  laughing at schmucks.  Soon Snookie and Pauly D were driving Escalades because we couldn’t turn away from their bar fights and drunken stupidity. Yeah – this was reality.

Reality took barely a decade to poison our lives with Honey Boo Boo, Moonshiner’s shenanigans and Amish Mafia. Disgraced televangelist Ted Haggard even had his “reality” displayed , trying to put his “ministry” back in the bank from a barn at his sprawling property. Reality it seems has no boundaries; nothing is off limits – as long as we marginalize, mock, emulate or mess up our priorities. Kudos MTV – you are responsible for turning society into marshmallows –  when was the last time you even aired a music video?


Absurd Cleansing

Human nature never ceases to amaze me – vanity, denial, stubbornness, greed – collide at a place called the “cleansing diet”. The age of celebrity created a fad so stupid it defies explanation. Latched onto by pseudo health practitioners; marketing gurus and social media took care of the rest.

Obesity rates rise faster than pulses watching Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball. Over processed, imitation flavours, all you can eat, super-sized meals; don’t worry’ – you can be thin and fabulous with a cleansing diet and some colonic irrigation. All the “beautiful people” do it, it must be the answer;  this is where the stroke of genius behind cleansing absurdity comes in – cleansing diets are marketed to every demographic imaginable. The obese can drop 20 pounds in 10 days, the “fabulous” can poop away a few months of excess, the organic crowd can purify their bodies, while those on the fence take the cleanse to be hip.

The “master cleanse” is a 10 day program of putting nothing in your body except a drink of maple syrup, lemon juice, water, lemonade and cayennes pepper. Top it off with laxatives and your body should be good as new, hey Beyonce does it. Dr. Oz jumped in the ring with his quickie 48 hour cleanse of prune and quinoa smoothies, while sipping dandelion tea in an epsom salt bath. I haven’t even touched on concoctions available in health food stores or colonic therapies marketed as “new age” wonders. Holy crap, and I mean that literally.

I’ve always believed; man became mankind when we looked in the mirror and found fault in our reflection. Pondering how stupid vanity makes us, or how gullible humanity behaves, doesn’t make me very happy.


It Helps If You Love Your Job

The executive assistant explained she was planning a birthday party for her boss. Navigating broken English we understood they wanted Canadian food, only the best for a party in two days. Lack of common language didn’t hinder our ability to put on a splendid party. Not surprisingly, executive assistant’s “best” involved champagne fountains, expensive scotch, and dazzling floral festooned archways dotted with twinkling lights.. Never one to judge, we pulled out the stops to make boss one of the weirdest birthday/wedding/ sweet sixteen/ 70’s disco parties I’ve laid eyes on.

Our client said everything was perfect – exactly as she imagined. As guests started to arrive it became apparent female guests fell into two distinctly different camps. The ball gown and tiara set, mingled with barely covering your panties in skin tight Lycra dresses teetering on 4 inch heels crowd. Oddly age wasn’t a factor, nor did it seem to make the slightest difference – I suppose dress code was “optional”

After dinner attention turned to the stage for speeches and video montage of boss man’s life. We found the pictures helpful, managing to piece together boss man’s rise to glory in the real estate market, despite absence of our mother tongue. Formalities over it was time for Karaoke.

As I stood next to the stage, a Lycra clad woman approached saying “help” -one of the few English words she spoke. It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out her problem.  Blind sided by her period, every square inch from the edge of her skimpy garment to the top of her rhinestone heels demanded immediate attention. I led her out the back door, leaving her hunched over in the back of our van as I went to find a feminine product. No luck – the best I could do was a pitcher of warm water and two clean bar rags – one to wash up with, the other to stuff in her underwear. Her motioning for me to do the washing was met with a firm “oh, hell no”. She shrugged, washed herself, and put the bar rag in her panties.

Suddenly overcome with a sense of urgency she left the van, making a B-line for the stage. I’d missed them calling her name, I didn’t miss her perfect rendition of Lady Gaga’s I Was Born This Way.

Just another day at the office – it helps if you love your job.

It Bothers Me…..

A few weeks ago I was driving in heavy traffic at the end of a long hot day. As I approached an intersection it was obvious that road construction was partly to blame for the traffic crawl. My decision to bail and take another route solidified when a break opened in the lane beside me. I signalled, started to pull into the lane, when suddenly a car races forward, cutting me off. What happened next pushed my very last button. I pull into the lane once this accident waiting to happen is clear of my vehicle. The light changes, traffic starts to move; all traffic except aggressive jerk – now his signal light is on indicating he wants to turn into the lane I just left. Holy crap! For five whole minutes  jerk is at a full stop in front of me – I lost it – people must have thought I was crazy as I leaned on the horn screaming “what is wrong with you”. I really don’t like jerk drivers.

Mosquitoes find me irresistible.  Sure they attack my arms and legs, I react badly to their bites but can deal with these assaults. If only it stopped at that – somehow these demons manage to torment me by zeroing in on feet, knuckles, elbows, and ankles. I hate mosquitoes.

Who am I to judge another persons life style. Knock yourself out – choose to be a vegetarian or vegan – you have your reasons; moral , religious, ethical – no problem. My blood pressure only rises when you dress tofu up as turkey. Tofurkey makes me want to scream. Why would you want to pretend to eat turkey? It’s soy beans, a lifestyle choice you’ve made, not damn turkey.

Dogs are not supposed to wear shoes. There’s nothing cute about your Pomeranian’s sneakers. While I’m at it – dogs want to run in the park, not be pushed about in a carriage. Dogs are not dolls waiting for you to play dress-up.

I’m a smoker; I know the health risks, it’s my choice, and smoking is legal. The government collects millions of dollars in taxes from cigarettes. A package of 20 cigarettes costs over ten dollars but I can’t smoke in a city park, on the beach, in a bar, restaurant patio or within 6 metres of any business.

My blood boils when entering a premise populated by militant recyclers or delusional environment fanatics.  Terms like sustainable, free trade, ethical, organic, and local fill the air as they make coffee one cup at a time using single plastic packages of “organic, free trade espresso” in their expensive coffee machine. Are you kidding me? Single plastic packages for one cup of coffee? While on the subject of coffee – I refuse to utter the words venti or grande – my coffee is small, medium, or large.

I can’t ponder any more, it’s making me grumpy. What bothers you?

Abercrombie and Fitch Bonfire

Comments made in a 2006 Salon magazine article, interviewing Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries, have surfaced recently in a Business Insider blog. I suppose Business Insider has a lot more readers than Salon; I for one have never even heard of Salon, let alone turned its pages. Regardless – Abercrombie and Fitch had better hang on – they’re in for a bumpy ride.

Jeffries is reported to have said – “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after attractive all-American kids with a great attitude, and lots of friends.A lot of people don’t belong in our clothes, and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” “”In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then the not so cool kids”

Lets ponder those words for a minute before I move on to the bonfire.While clearly Jeffries isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed for allowing A&F’s high opinion of themselves to sneak out of the barn – name any competitor who isn’t thinking the same thing. Sure Abercrombie and Fitch is awarded bonus points for its 2002 marketing campaign when they proudly displayed thong underwear for girls aged 7 – 14, with slogans like “eye-candy” and “wink,wink” on the front. And granted they learned nothing from the public outcry and removal of said panties from their shelves, we can’t fault their determination or ignorance. What you see is what you get – why is everyone so surprised?

It was also revealed that A&F refuses to sell “plus-size” Fat people are not “cool” or popular, and I guess have no friends – at least not the kind of friends A&F cares to shake hands with. Once again – why are we scratching our heads? I’d be curious to know how many of the thousands of people in an uproar over this even shopped there in the first place. Not that it lessons the flagrant pompousness of these “asinine” remarks; simply that who really cares? I can think of many other fights much more deserving a public shake-down. Abercrombie and Fitch will grow stale faster than yesterdays bagel, I for one am not about to jump on the “petition band wagon”, although you have to hand it to them, this last nail is a spectacular finale.

Abercrombie and Fitch reportably burn their factory seconds and over-stocks rather than donate them to charity. Who’s to say there aren’t a hundred other companies who do the same, I have no idea what goes on behind the closed doors of companies with enough sense to zip their lip. All I’ve got to go on is A&Fs stunning ass biter – they would rather burn their clothing than see their image tainted by poor, fat, or unattractive people walking around with an Abercrombie and Fitch logo.

My heart briefly went out to unattractive rich people, then I remembered they were the reason plastic surgeons wore Abercrombie and Fitch – I’m back on course.

Pondering the hoopla I have just one request – all you outraged citizens with your knickers in a Abercrombie and Fitch twist – feign outrage, sign petitions, donate A&F to the homeless – just remember to stop buying magazines like People or In Touch, and turn off television shows like Real Housewives or  Kardashians. While you’re at it; stop laughing at Honey Boo Boo, Swamp People, and the Jersey Shore. We idolize rich and thin, ostracise the uneducated, crass, or vulgar. My goodness, what do people think will come of that?

'Cool kids': Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries said in 2006 that a lot of people 'don't belong' in the retailer's clothes - they're only for 'cool kids'

‘Cool kids’: Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries said in 2006 that a lot of people ‘don’t belong’ in the retailer’s clothes – they’re only for ‘cool kids’