Not A Pink Girl

A snapshot of (white?) America via Vera Bradley

June 23, 2008
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I wonder if the models in the Vera Bradley catalog watch golf? Somehow I doubt it. On page 19 of the catalog, there’s a list of the names of all the models that appear.

We have Blue, the “little furry friend” of VB, who happens to be the most endearing, in my opinion. I think he’s a Yorkie. Then there’s Bailey & her friend Molly, her mother Brenda & brother Brady. (Now I guess I have to get into a discussion of the merits [are there any?] of a woman who would name all her children with names that begin with the same letter.) The whole fam-damily is dripping with WASPishness.

Next is Sarah, friend of one of the Bradleys. The name Sarah is Hebrew for “princess” & was the fourth most popular baby girl name for white New Yorkers surveyed in 2004. She’s the most ethnic-looking one of the bunch – which is refreshing – but her (obviously) dark hair is dyed blonde. *sigh*

On page 6 is Carly, a VB summer intern. What a gig, huh? Cathy is pictured working up a sweat learning to be a tag-flipper at the local quasi-antiques emporium. Bet I’d go through some serious sticker shock checking the prices at stores in the Hamptons compared to what things cost at my local junk store.

Next? A group of little girls holding umbrellas & jumping a la Miss America on the seashore. We have Reagan (hold my head somebody), McKenzie, Savannah, Kaitlyn & Sarah, all daughters of the Vera Bradley Classic Steering Committee. Huh? Wonder what they do on that committee. Steering what? More non-ethnic customers to their goods? “Get their brand loyalty young” is the message here, I guess.

1964, when people chose old-fashioned names

And who names their daughter Reagan? Should I guess when her birthday is? All the girls pictured look to be about 9 years old. Let’s see. Assume the photos for this catalog were taken in 2007. So that means Reagan was probably born in 1998. It was announced in 1994 that Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer’s Disease, & that would have put him in the news. He didn’t die until 2004, & I think the girl pictured is older than 4, so it wouldn’t have been his death that caused the newborn’s parents such extreme grief & nostalgia for the Gipper they named their baby daughter after him.

In the 1964 kindergarten Christmas pageant photo above, the children’s names are Steve, Cheryl, Patti, Nancy, Gary, Joann, Kevin, Karen, Randall, Kathy, Julia (my sister, third from the right in the front row), Colleen & Cathy. I don’t think anyone names their girls Cathy, Kathy, or Kathie (my nickname) anymore. If they name a girl Katherine (my name), the nickname is usually Kate or Katie, if they allow a nickname at all.

In 1998 the US was winding down one of the most prosperous periods in recent history. The budget was balanced, we had a $230 billion budget surplus (read that figure again; George W. Bush & the Republicans wiped this out after only 3 months in office) & gas was about 99 cents a gallon. Bill Clinton was halfway through his second term & the Evil Empire (you guessed it, the Republicans again) was hellbent on impeaching him for his affair with Monica.

(Try to get your brain around that: George W. Bush & Dick Cheney lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction & have gone unpunished [& rewarded: don’t forget that George W. Bush’s daddy has Zapata Oil Company, so all these skyrocketing gas prices put money literally right into George W. Bush’s pocket, & Dick Cheney has Halliburton, a company that specializes in rebuilding oil-rich countries ravaged by war, so by destroying Iraq he’s padding his own bank account; that’s why it’s called blood money], but Bill Clinton had an affair & lied about it, & he got impeached. So don’t make excuses to me about how you’re “not political” so you don’t vote. You should be ashamed & you know it.)

There were a lot of angry white men in the middle class (AMCWMs) in 1998, & they hated Bill Clinton because they were just flat-out jealous of him. (You think I’m kidding? Ask any of them to explain to you why they hate Bill Clinton so much & if you press them, you’ll get to the truth: Bill had a full head of hair in his mid-50s, heaps of charisma & sex appeal, friends from every strata of society, & young hotties running around after him, not to mention he was the leader of the free world [& doing a darn good job too], which sure don’t hurt in the Sexy Department. What did these AMCWMs have? Ouch.)

So maybe, just to fit in with the anti-Clinton crowd at the local pub, these AMCWMs convinced their wives to name their kid Reagan. That, & slapping a I’M THE NRA AND I VOTE sticker on their Chevy Tahoe probably made them feel right at home with all the other male-pattern-baldness anti-Affirmative-Action middle-age-creeps.

Moving on.

There’s Angelee with her baby Anika on page 10. Ooh! She could be Latina! Maybe she changed her name from Angel? Although that is rather a male name… But Anika? That sounds more Scandinavian to me. Darn. By the way Angelee got her picture in the VB catalog because she owns a Vera Bradley retail shop. Full disclosure.

Now maybe Vera runs into a problem getting white Anglo-Saxon Protestant women to pose for the catalog, because she starts repeating faces. On page 12 is Brenda again, the same Brenda that posed in her high-end-furnished kitchen on page 3 with her B-named offspring. I find it interesting to note that Brenda’s last name (or is it her husband’s) means “leather tanner” & is the name of a family that arrived in the New World as early as the 1700s. Perhaps an old-line Knickerbocker family? Probably used to having nice furniture I guess.

I skipped Cathy, Brenda’s friend, with whom she is photographed lunching. Cathy could be Latina too! So far, that’s 2.5 (not sure about Angelee) vaguely-ethnic-looking models out of 15.

On page 14 in a photo titled “Meeting Time,” we join Aimee (what there anything so wrong with just plain old-fashioned Amy?). She’s dressed for success circa 1983 & almost as white as her teeth.

Allison & John try to row a dinghy weighted down with wildly-printed VB beach towels trailing in the drink. Approximately-10-year-old Allison is said to be the granddaughter of Mary Ann, VB sales consultant, & John – aged about 7 & dangerously blond & fair-skinned to be out on the water on such a sunny day (hope his mommy has slathered him with SPF 45) – who is the great-grandson of Vera Bradley herself! Gosh, that young & it’s already about who you know that gets you anywhere in this world.

Sherry jots pithy notes in her journal as she sits on the pier on page 17. Her last name is the same as a famous prizefighter (although it’s spelled a bit differently), but I have a strong suspicion they’re not related.

Last but not least, we visit our Favorite Bee Family yet again. On page 18, we are reunited with Brenda & daughter Bailey (bee-bee), waiting on the tarmac to board their Cessna. My! Is summer in the fabulous Hamptons over already? Or is it just beginning? Time sure flies when you’re this rich! This picture irks me (surprise surprise) for another reason. Dear Bailey girl is wearing Navajo sandals, which I adore & covet (what? no Vera Bradley flipflops?).

The upshot of all this is that I can’t believe a popular women’s brand like Vera Bradley would have no African-American models. Sorry Vera, but your America is not what America really looks like.

More on this in my next post. Happy Midsummer’s Eve! I hope you are enjoying “high-spirited merrymaking & lighthearted bewitchment.”


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