I’m wearing a colorful patchwork apron with an applique fastened to the left strap, my ankles eased against an elephant-shaped foot rest. I am seated on a purple velvet armchair, reading a copy of Bigfoot: I Not Dead. I am twirling one strand of my hair with a quirky doorknob. I am occupying Anthropologie.
This wasn’t planned. It came about organically, this morning when I set foot in the Nordstrom Mall. I was browsing the windows of Betsey Johnson and Free People when I smelled something enchanting across the hall. It was a cross between new car smell and a better life. It lingered in the air as I made my way through the glass doors. An array of deconstructed rare (I assume) books hung above. That’s when I felt the first twinge of expensive-kitsch-borne oppression.
Neither did I follow a designated leader. I went to the mall alone because my friend, Sharon, who said she would go shopping with me last week, had to get new retainers from her orthodontist because she never wore her original retainers, so now her teeth have shifted and, well, the point is she needed to go get fitted for new retainers. Thus, my spontaneous march on Anthropologie was what one might consider a “leaderless movement.”
The socio-economic struggles associated with Anthropologie are not new, though I just now took up the cause of protesting them. The problem is, even after reading a few price tags, people like me who have too late found themselves entangled in a visit to Anthropologie feel compelled to maintain the appearance that all is well. They go about the business of browsing adorable cardigans and pajama pants covered in rowing gondoliers because business as usual means they don’t have to lose face. They suffer in silence, arms full of home goods they’ll never use.
What Anthropologie doesn’t seem to realize is that by setting up shop in a mall I frequent, they are making a promise. They are suggesting that it is possible for me to achieve a certain standard of living, that it is there for me if I’m willing to work towards it. Here’s the problem: opportunity is scarce nowadays, and you’re delusional if you think I’m going to pay $80 for that half T-shirt that looks like it was used to refinish an armoire (in the best way).
I’m not expecting any handouts. I do, however, expect the sales associates to eventually acknowledge that there is a woman who never leaves their store every night. Then, maybe they’ll ask me, “Why are you here?” And I can tell them: “I’m waiting for those skinny, burgundy corduroys to go on sale.”
I can no longer afford to remain silent, now that I’ve come to the realization that I am the 99 percent: the demographic of shoppers who enters Anthropologie knowing full well that they can’t afford anything on display. And I will remain within the confines of the store until people finally accept that a dialogue is necessary in order to fix what’s wrong with Anthrolopologie. Because I’m talking about Anthropologie, people. I’m just talking about Anthropologie.
Laura Burns is a writer and comedian based out of Boston, MA. Previous publications include The Rumpus and Funny not Slutty. She is a local comedy blogger for Somerville Local First, and her sketch group, Friends of Gertrude, was an official selection of the 2010 Philly Sketchfest.