Crimes of Fashion
Despite what millions of people might say to the contrary, I believe government sometimes serves a useful purpose. For example, when it protects us from making unfortunate fashion statements which we might otherwise live to regret. I include in this category white patent leather platform shoes. My husband once owned a pair. Fortunately for him, I did not know this until after we were married.
Government interest in fashion began in West Virginia several years ago when, according to news reports, the then Governor Bob Wise unilaterally ordered Abercrombie & Fitch to stop selling – and to destroy – its supply of a T-shirt that mocked his state
Wise claimed that the T-shirt (which read, “It’s All Relative in West Virginia”) depicted “an unfounded, negative stereotype” of his state. He threatened to send his cousins (all three hundred fifty two thousand, one hundred eighty nine of them) to enforce his demand.
The Virginia state government also reacted swiftly to a fashion crisis, this one involving the known health risk of visible panty lines. The House of Delegates, in an effort to protect constituents from the over-sized, low-riding pants (most commonly worn by male teens), passed a bill making visible undergarments illegal. Brand names were not specified. Other communities and states across the nation have joined the struggle against saggy pants, including Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.
Sadly, these are the only laws against wearing clothes that make you look like a fool.
I think the restrictions are a good idea, but don’t go far enough. For one thing, prohibitions against exposed underwear will not protect us from a far more serious fashion hazard: Speedos.
The general rule is that only Olympic athletes (present or future) should be allowed in public while wearing one. This is a good rule that needs to be enforced, but no state or federal agency is currently responsible for it. Only the government has the resources necessary to prevent fashion disasters like this before they happen (such as Elton John, Bjork, and Cher).
In the meantime, West Virginia’s cease and destroy demand ignited a firestorm of controversy. In Georgia, the governor asked the state’s attorney general to investigate whether it was too late to make similar demands of the producers of the movie “Deliverance,” which made that state look like it was plumb full of banjo playing, pig loving crazies and that was just the cops.
The Washington State Apple Growers Association reacted by filing suit for an injunction against the City of New York, claiming the City’s use of the name “The Big Apple” caused their fruit extreme emotional distress, low self-esteem and bruising. The Association also seeks an unspecified amount of damages.
Not to be outdone, prostitutes in Nevada today filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against New Orleans, claiming “the Big Easy” is a false and deceptive trade name. The painted ladies claim that, because prostitution is legal only in Nevada, only locations within that state could truly be called “easy” if not cheap. New Orleans thus would be unable to establish that, as a general rule, women there are legally “easy” as the term is commonly understood.
Meanwhile, in a recently released study by the Compassionate Conservative Institute in Washington D.C., 8 out 10 high school students identified West Virginia as part of the Virgin Islands.
Which brings us back to what government does best, helping those who cannot help themselves, at least when making fashion decisions: teenagers. So let’s begin protecting our kids from the same humiliation my husband endures every time I mention the white patent leather platforms.
Imagine where Elton might be today if he’d had the same help when he was young.