Pardon the obnoxious capitalization in the title, but I strive for authenticity. Delia's, as it will henceforth be called since I do not have the patience to type "dELiA*s" every time I want to refer to it, sells clothing to young women. Their style is a fun and light-hearted one. They sell tie-dye tees with panda bears on them. One shirt features a giraffe in Kanye shades saying, "Sup?" A pair of tees, one with a brontosaurus silhouette and the other with that of a tyrannosaurus, say "Herbivore" and "Carnivore" respectively. In short, it's a very silly place.
In a way, it is refreshing to know that such a place exists in a teen fashion world seemingly dominated by the skimpy and the lewd. After a while, it gets old seeing jailbait parading around. One can only handle so many teens wearing sweatpants with "Juicy" written across their ass cheeks. It is a rare kind of man that can see an underage girl baring her cleavage and popping out of a tiny V-neck without feeling downright terrible about himself and his natural instincts. Delia's provides young girls with non-revealing, non-suggestive attire. Surely, it must be refreshing to see a girl wearing a shirt with a smiling caricature of Earth on it instead of the words "dripping wet" written across her prominent chest. Right?
Well, not exactly. Delia's merchandise has its own kind of problem. While most of it is innocuous enough - a dictionary saying "Word!" or a smiling piece of bread popping out of a toaster - a very decent-sized chunk of Delia's merchandise revolves around environmentalism and world peace. When you factor in a few shirts that feature solemn-faced Bob Marleys and Jimi Hendrices, which stand in contrast to the happy-go-lucky atmosphere the rest of the place exhibits, you begin to realize that Delia's is turning young girls into something far worse than tramps.
It pains me to see just how unabashedly naive much of the youth of America is about various realities such as, in general, the way the world works. We cannot simply "stop polluting." Pollution is an inevitable side effect of industry in general. Manufacturing requires both energy and physical change to raw materials; energy consumption and physical change result in waste and runoff. Even the process of recycling results in some pollution. We cannot simply "not make war." Humankind is wrought with the desire to compete, achieve, and retain. A group of poor and starving people will understandably go to any length to achieve the food and money they require for survival. And one third of the world is, yes, poor and starving. War and pollution are unpleasant, certainly. Few would argue against that much. But they are necessary evils. There is no way to eliminate or even significantly reduce either of them without radically changing our way of life. And this is something that the average 16-year old girl wearing a shirt that says "stop all the fighting!" is not yet capable of understanding.
One of the few times I have been in Delia's, waiting for my girlfriend outside of the fitting room, I saw a girl take a shirt off the rack featuring Africa superimposed on a peace sign. I'm sure the intent of both Delia's and the girl was to say, "hey, look at this shirt, I care about Africa," but for me the shirt just screamed ignorance. Africa is a continent riddled with disease, famine, and political instability. Slavery is still legal in certain countries there. Overpopulation would be an extreme issue, but due to the rampant AIDS, is only a minor one. Terrible, terrible people routinely take control of entire countries via military coups. Children are taken from their mothers' arms to be trained as soldiers. Men are torn limb from limb in front of their families. Hands and feet are removed with machetes. Civil wars are the norm and not the exception. Genocide occurs but goes largely unnoticed by the world at large. And yet, according to this girl and her Delia's shirt, peace in Africa is pretty doable. It's just that easy. How shamelessly condescending.
The majority of Delia's clothing - Snoopy using an umbrella because it is raining musical notes - is fine enough by me. But when it comes to choosing between a trollop and a hippie, I'd rather have young ladies' outfits save my imagination than Darfur. Peace in Africa, thanks to t-shirts? Come on. That's even sillier than a talking giraffe in Kanye shades.