To those of us whose brand of Christianity is of the more traditional persuasion, December 25th marks the transition from Advent to Christmastide, the famous twelve days of Christmas; to less formal Christians, Christmastide begins roughly around Thanksgiving and ends at midnight Christmas Day, at which time many trash their trees and consign the decorations to the attic before sunrise.
In the commercial world the calendar is, shall we say, fluid. Christmas displays and lights appear in some stores as early as October, sometimes very early. Those who wait for Thanksgiving are surely in the eyes of their cutthroat competitors hopelessly passé. And as the brick-and-mortar stores go, so go the mail-order and online outfits. All too early and, alas, inevitably, catalogues fill mailboxes to the bursting point with one objective: to fill heads young and old with visions of dancing sugar plums.
It is curious that until this year I had never seen a catalogue from Amazon, the online store of online stores. If, indeed, they hadn’t produced one before, they have rectified the oversight. I’ve had it now for weeks, and if I haven’t shredded it yet, it’s due to its being something of a cultural artifact, an item that couldn’t have existed at any other time in history. I may save it for my grandchildren who, I pray, will find it incomprehensible and stupid.
Entitled “Holiday Style Heroes” (2021 Fashion Gift Guide), the publication is, in a word, ghastly. What’s in it? The cover offers a clue. It displays six and a half (two models are partially obscured) oriental women, middle-aged or older, smiling, arms raised. Are they exercising? Triumphant? Who knows? Their holiday sweaters notwithstanding, the point really isn’t the “holidays” or even shopping; it’s box-ticking.
Turning past the colorful table of contents, one finds Sakinah and Zakiyyah Rahman, “twin sisters” of the “groundbreaking rap duo Aint Afraid,” decked out in “head scarves” (note: a Hijab by any other name is still a Hijab), “Puffer” jackets, maxi skirts, and various accessories. They’re from Detroit. Are they Muslim, Black Muslim, or something else? Amazon doesn’t bother to say what holiday they’re celebrating, but I somehow doubt it’s Christmas. The caption says they’re advocates for “homeless youth.”
Amazon dedicates the next four pages to Naiomi Glasses of Rough Rock, Arizona, in a nod to the Mexican and Indian community. She’s pictured in appropriately cultural dress (long pleated skirts, billowing blouses, beads, neck-scarves) on a skateboard. She’s a weaver and “an activist bringing skating pride to the Diné youth.”
The Quinones sisters get the next spread, three African-American girls (but surely of mixed race) outfitted in “next-gen style,” meaning gaudy and skimpy. They’re followed two pages later by Laila Gohar, a “Cairo-born” chef and artist in NYC, and three pages after her by Gia Love of Brooklyn (“model, activist, and consultant with Trans Equity Consultants”) who sports a leopard-skin dress, plus-size.
By now it should be obvious to anyone leafing through “Holiday Style Heroes” that Amazon is obsessed with minorities, women, and, except for Miss Gohar, activists. Ironically, they’re equally captive to stereotypes. Page after page offers ethnic models type-cast in keeping with standard cultural clichés. It’s easy enough to guess that the cultural-appropriation police would descend in a flash if a WASP female graced the catalogue’s pages dressed like Naiomi Glasses. Well, Amazon isn’t going to let that happen, and, so, everyone shows up dressed in the proper gear.
A white “couple” graces the pages about a third of the way through: Tafv Sampson and Nicholas Des Jardins. Nick’s hair is so long I had to look twice to make sure he wasn’t a woman, but he has a beard. They’re not activists; rather they’re creative when they’re not party-going. They’re also dressed in the most atrocious taste imaginable; however, ethnicity aside, that’s something they share with just about everybody else in the catalogue.
Who else does Amazon parade before its clients in “Holiday Style Heroes”? The list is impressive: Amy Denet Deal and mother Lily Young (fashion designers and activists); Charly Pierre (chef and “community leader”); Mackenzie Adams (kindergarten teacher and TikTok sensation); the Carpenter family (professor dad, photographer mom, and four kids with “unique superpowers”—x-ray vision perhaps?); Atlanta Drum Academy star students (who play drums); Ava GG (pro gamer and “cat/plant mom”); Terrell and Jarius Joseph (“LGBTQ+ advocates” and “fathers to two delightfully rambunctious tots”); Kirk Williams, a wheelchair bound athlete and photographer); and, finally, Jorden Bickham (stylist and fashion editor) and Soraya Zaman (photographer) who take every chance “to unplug and spend time outside.”
For the record, I think Jorden is a man, but it’s hard to tell, and the rather gender-neutral clothes don’t help.
Well, you get the idea. Amazon in “Holiday Style Heroes” is catering to about one percent of the population, the Woke crowd that controls so much of politics and culture. Maybe next year they’ll mail a catalogue for the rest of us. Merry Christmas!