I've got a big secret today and I'm ready to share it publicly after approximately five years of shame: I do a lot of shopping at American Eagle. Like A LOT.
There have been days when I am dressed head to toe in American Eagle. There have also been days where people compliment my outfit when I'm dressed entirely in American Eagle and then I have a smug, smuuuuuug little smile to myself about it.
And before you say "oh my god Delaney...what? I can't look at you the same" I want you to a) ask yourself whether you would have known that from looking at me without me letting you in on this v juicy secret and b) look at my butt in these jeans and tell me it's not worthy of at least one teensy line in the bridge of a rap song. Because that is the magic that American Eagle and I make together.
I bought my first pair of real jeans from American Eagle in 8th grade. It was also my first pair of jeans at all. Until age thirteen, I had subsisted entirely on a wardrobe of dresses, skirts, and a strange menagerie of definitely ugly but insanely comfortable knit pants. This is because I genetically hate clothes. From ages four through fourteen, I insisted on wearing my socks inside out so that the seams didn't rub on my toes (the only reason I stopped was because at age fourteen we had to change in the locker room for PE and I didn't want people to see my inside-out socks and think I was crazy—which I clearly was. And at fourteen I was also delusional enough to think that someone would notice my socks in the locker room). Clothes just touch my body so much. And denim touches the most.
So in 8th grade the silent peer pressure to dress like everyone else finally outweighed my inordinate discomfort in conventional clothing. I went to American Eagle (because it wasn't as cologne-drenched as Abercrombie and not as poorly lit as Hollister) and bought a pair of jeans. The ones I settled on I remember liking especially because the style was called "The Artist" (yes L O L, I know). They were flared and medium wash. I continued to be a devotee to The Artist until the end of my junior year. (A fun side note is that I did not retire my original pair of American Eagle jeans until the end of sophomore year, at which point they were so unbelievably worn they ripped right open on the butt while at my friend's house. I spent the following two hours sitting down and not moving until I was driven home. Maybe that is really what is deserving of a line in a rap song).
I can distinctly recall at least eleven pairs of American Eagle jeans I've purchased since that fateful first encounter with the medium wash flares in 8th grade. This number does not include multiple pairs of shorts, a denim mini skirt, and more graphic tees than I would like to admit. How many pairs do I still own? Obviously I'm not going to tell you that.
At this junction I would like to, in my own defense, say that I know it's reaaaaaally time I stop going into American Eagle. Like, I KNOW. Because I used to be in American Eagle at the appropriate age meticulously clicking through hangers and bump into other (older) shoppers and give them the side-eye like, "aren't you well into your prime J.Crew and Gap years? You should leave." I am now the person my younger self would side-eye.
I did manage to take a one-year hiatus from American Eagle. Between my high school graduation and the spring of my freshman year of college, I didn't step foot into one. This was part of a self-initiated cold turkey campaign because I really was going to quit American Eagle for good. I was TOO OLD. I told myself that no cool college girl shopped at American Eagle and thus neither would I (as if this was the only thing stopping me from being a cool college girl).
During those arduous twelve months, I averted my eyes at every mall, lest I be beckoned in by an incredible BOGO denim sale. I unsubscribed from marketing emails because I sure as hell wasn't going to succumb to the online shopping vortex. My conviction was unerring. Until one fateful day when a friend and I went to the mall after class and we walked past the American Eagle and she said to me conspiratorially, "you know, I actually kind of like American Eagle. They have a lot of underrated stuff." And then it was over. It was aaaaaaaall over. One year of resistance was entirely obliterated by the smallest hint of validation about my American Eagle habit. Obviously we went in. I purchased an olive green cargo vest that makes me look like I could be heading to an archeological dig at any second. There are a lot of handy pockets. I still wear it.
And since then, there have been no more American Eagle hiatuses. I still kind of get furtive when I go into one, as if the greeter at the door who tells you about the sales and the new arrivals is going to squint at me skeptically and be like, "I think you're in the wrong store...Madewell is next door" and I will have to laugh lightly and toss my hand up in a dismissive, carefree gesture and say "oh, I'm just picking up a gift for my cousin!" Because those are the kind of incredibly unlikely scenarios I like to be mentally prepared for.
Now I realize this story is slightly disheartening because I'm 23 and the main themes here are the pains of fitting in and being "cool" (themes that are befitting of someone who is the proper age to be wearing American Eagle aka a 16-year-old). But these are still sometimes things I care a load about and sometimes things I couldn't care less about. And that actually sums up my entire experience being 23. Things either feel like the end of the world or I couldn't give a flying fuck and I make sure everyone knows. American Eagle has been transitioned to the latter category.