The people they used to be

I don't usually spend much...well, actually, any time at the American Apparel website. I've seen their ads litter Gawker Media sites and think most of their offerings are user-hostile. Still, I followed a trail there today and found myself looking at a grainy, grayscale image of a young Barack Obama, smiling, leaning against an exterior wall in a smart leather jacket. The picture was followed by an image of a young John McCain, sitting, pensive, holding a cigarette in one hand. These pictures were part of the American Apparel endorsement, its Super Tuesday advisory. The theme, which extends beyond the presidential campaign: Legalize L.A. The company has made its appeal for each of these presidential candidates based on their stances on immigration.

The company goes on to explain why Hillary Clinton did not garner its endorsement, and this explanation was accompanied by an outdoor photo of a younger and smiling Hillary, accompanied by a scruffy, younger Bill.

Good for American Apparel. Companies are also citizens, odd that that may sound, and they should be judged not for having spoken so much as for what they actually say - same as for individuals. But, uh, that's not what struck me about the advisory.

What caught my eye was this glance back, this glimpse of three contenders for the highest public office we have at a time when each of them was light years from power and notoriety. We know all about Obama and McCain and Clinton now, of course, or at least we assume that we do and so act accordingly. Once upon a time, however, they were not yet so defined, not yet set in stone. Relatively unshaped, each of them, and yet already moving with faltering steps along paths which none of them could have clearly seen.

A community organizer. A soldier and former prisoner of war. A law student. Each of them separated from today by time and chance. And, of course, will.

I can't help wondering what those three people would have thought about today.


Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus