The Rock: Equal Opportunities? Only if you’re easy on the eyes

Published 16/02/2012

The Bournemouth Rock student paper.

See original copy below:




























I don’t shop in Hollister. This could be because there aren’t any outlets in the whole of the South West. It could be because I didn’t buy that many branded clothes because I couldn’t afford them. Either way, why do I know so many people care about a shop that I hadn’t even heard of until my college years?

I also know people will hand over a sizable amount of their cash just to have the nine letter word splashed across their body. There is the obvious theory, to wear a brand because it’s expensive and you want people to know that you live in luxury so you cover the product in this label to make sure it’s clear everybody can see it.

Obviously, businesses need their branding, and if we are so taken by it – well done marketing, your job here is done. The question is, when has a company’s brand been taken too far. The brand no longer becomes an aspiration but a real life inequality.

Walking into many high street shops, whether clothing or technology, the store workers are likely to be covered in their products. This is understandable that once starting, as a business you want your employees to do their best for the company, but it is right to start hiring like this.

Hollister is known for their attractive store attendants with many shoppers referring to them more like super models than shelf stackers. These beautiful creatures amongst us mere mortals, display the stunning life you could lead, if only you were slathered in our branded clothing. But let’s back up a minute, why are only the ‘beautiful’ hired while the rest of us look on longingly? As much as keeping in tone with the brand, why are the lookers the only ones hired? Is this not discrimination? In any other working environment you must not hire on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, age or race – so surely attractiveness must also not be seen as a legitimate reason not to hire somebody?

Emma Hawksworth was recently approached whilst shopping in a Hollister outlet in Brighton.

“I went in the store as a customer and was at the tills when one of the store managers asked if I was interested in a job there. He gave me his name and store details and took my phone number.  I had been at my other job all day and was still in my uniform”

Now Emma is an attractive young woman, but for a store to approach her, even in her supermarket work uniform, and offer the opportunity of a job without any prior knowledge of her previous experience or work ethic s– seems a bit unjust, no?

The same happened for Student Room user Arielle; “I was asked to work in Hollister over Christmas for no reason whatsoever. They just said they’d seen me in the shop and they were wondering if I could work with them as I looked like I would fit in.”

You’d think somewhere along the lines, Hollister would get a slap on the wrist for this type of employment policy but there is a loophole. As a parent company to Hollister, Abercrombie and Fitch define their staff members as ‘models’, allowing them to use an employee’s looks to their advantage. Models protect and project the image of the brand through personal style, providing customer service and maintaining presentation standards.  It is this ‘look policy’ which has saved its bacon a few times now.

Back in June 2009, a disabled girl successfully sued Abercrombie and Fitch for a store manager trying to cover up her prosthetic arm – as it did not fit in with their ‘look policy’. Riam Dean, a 22-year-old law student from west London, told the tribunal she was removed from the shop floor at the company’s Savile Row branch when management became aware of her disability. Riam consequentially left A&F because of the ill treatment she received.

The way somebody looks should not be a justifiable excuse to discriminate, we all know this, and it’s a human right!

Admittedly, the hiring process does not only work on an immediate employment. As noted by recent employee Emma Hawksworth “I don’t feel they hire staff purely on looks – a firm needs people who can competently do the job required or else they would get nowhere.”

I can’t disagree with Emma, of course if these ‘models’ were only competent for their looks the company would probably run itself into the ground. Nevertheless, the interview procedure is profoundly started on hiring because of somebody’s appearance, and in Riam’s case, the reason why she left.


Sky diving. noun.  [skahy-dahy-ving]

An activity where one jumps out of a plane with a parachute on their back and falls thousands of feet before opening their chute (most of the time without any “aggravations”) and land back on the ground just as if they had jumped down from a 5MPH moving truck (again, results vary.)
White boy: I think I’ll go skydiving this weekend. 
Marcus: You be crazy. (See Urban Dictionary)
If you have kept up to date with my radio show and Facebook updates, you’ll know that I have recently taken up the hobby of sky diving.
This actually started many months ago when I was investigating what the freshers fair at BU had to offer, and fancied straying a bit further from the crowd at the Baking Society or the effort of the Boat Club.

I will be honest, I did sign up with the intention of enjoying a relaxing tandem jump, where I could just casually enjoy the journey down and leave the lovely instructor to do all the hard work. This was proven not to be the case when I was introduced to sky diving as a sport not just a one-off treat.
Tempted to run out of the first meeting, I decided that I would man up and sign my name down permanently. At this time I was in a blissful bubble where I could boast about being part of the BUFF club (Bournemouth University Free Fallers), and not think about the consequences until I was in the aircraft.
The good thing is that this dreamy state lasted till the moment I started queuing to board the wafer like plane at the Neveravon drop zone. My stubborn pride, and the fact I had handed over £130, made me press on, but the tears began to fall and probably created one the most terrifying moments of my life. On board, I was squeezed in around 6th place in a 12 man plane, and continued the ascent with sporadic floods of tears as I dared to look out the window.
The plane came to flatten out between 3,500 – 4,000 feet in the sky, and people began to launch themselves out. Being as comforted as possible by friends who were as equally scared but not losing all credibility with hot drips rolling down their faces, I was called to the door.
I shuffled over, hung my legs out the side door which were immediately blown right back with the wind, and did my best to adopt the door position. “Look up!” shouted the instructor, as I made eye contact I whimper “I’m scared.”
“GO!” and out I pushed myself.
I didn’t remember a lot of the first few seconds, until I felt the pull of the parachute releasing itself from the static line. Looking around and coming back to reality, I realised that for what I thought I was losing my life over seconds ago was actually fine and I had survived my petrifying experience.
Now with three jumps in my record book, I can say that I no longer blub like an infant when I get in the plane, in the door or on the way down. But I will also say technique wise – I wouldn’t say I am a natural jumper. I have spent all my jump tickets for now, and considering all of these have been in severely cold weather, including my last jump in the snow, I will not be jumping until the warmer weather show’s its face.
I signed up to BUFF club for the experience, and I have certainly had that. I have loved the feeling of survival as soon as I am out of the door, yet my nerves to progress further with the sport are still shaking. Perhaps I’ll get better, learn to pull my parachute, or even attempt the free-falling and formations direction of the sport.
All I know, is that it took all my nerve to do it, and I’m pleased I have.
In the meantime, I think I’ll stay on the ground wrapped up with a hot cup of tea.
If you feel like enjoying witnessing my sheer terror. I’m getting ready to jump from around 7,30.


Branding – Web Video

My partner Alice Simons-Denville and I, were set the task of creating a web video. The only aim for the footage was to not be structured in a typical news package style.We opted to a ‘creature comforts‘ style of documentary, where we recorded informal interviews with people about branding and their thoughts.

It might seem a little rough around the edges but it was probably made in about 24 hours.