An Open Letter to the Mean Girls of FIGS: CoFounders Trina Spear and Heather Hasson
From a Female Physician
I am a Xennial and am pretty confident that you both are as well. Let me tell you why.
I remember dial-up internet but was too young to use it. Mario Typing was brand-new when taught in my elementary school. Pearl Jam, Nirvana (RIP Kurt Cobain), and Bush dominated TRL on MTV but pop stars like Brit-Brit were about to run them off the Billboard Charts. Nokia phones were all the rage and Tom, everyone’s first MySpace friend, became the most popular man in the country. Hollywood was about to embark on a much-needed female-centric revamp and the young actresses leading this effort gave birth to a new species: The Mean Girl. Based on your recent ad, (the one above), followed by the pathetic and impassive apology that would come shortly after, I would have to guess you were born between 1982-1984 because you both reek of first-generation Mean Girl.
I imagine the roads we have all traveled bore some similarities. You two, savvy businesswomen, me, a physician. The moment I found out I had been accepted into medical school must have felt similar to the moment you raised your first round of capital. The amount of time I spent studying, reading, and praying that twenty-four hours in a day would afford me enough time to learn all of the material for my weekly exams was likely equal to the hours you spent crafting your product. Perfecting it. Combing through thousands of fabric samples. I can even hear you say to yourself, “I will know the right one when I feel it.” And then, just like that, there it was. Do you remember how invigorating that moment felt?
But as I write this now, I can’t help but wonder, perhaps these memories faded for you. Perhaps you’ve lost those feelings of vulnerability, of sheer joy at accomplishing things you were not certain were possible. How else could you rationalize your brazen decision to circulate such a biased advertisement that does nothing more than insult and mock some of the smartest and hardest working women in this country? Let me tell you something: the era of the Mean Girl is over. It is time for women like you to sit down and listen to those of us who are choosing a different path: empowering one another.
For the past couple of centuries, women have been knocking down walls built not just by men but by women like you. Women who may decry misogyny and sexism in men but feel free to dish it out to other women. How will we ever make progress if, for every wall taken down, you (and those like you) build another one in its place? Do you see the irony in this? If not for the tireless work of our female predecessors (like the late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) dismantling these walls built on foundations of sexism and misogyny your dream to be CEOs and business owners of a multi-million-dollar company would be a pipe dream.
When I first saw your ad I rolled my eyes and told myself that I wasn’t going to respond. Mainly because I am exhausted. I didn’t have the time nor energy to rage against your ignorance. You see, for the past nine months, healthcare workers like me have been pretty busy. Not only are we taking care of thousands of COVID patients, but we have also been tirelessly advocating for safer work conditions. We have been begging for access to more PPE. We are spending precious time away from our families in an effort to correct the blatant untruths about this pandemic told by our highest government officials. Not to mention the fight for society's adherence to simple public health mandate requests. So like I said, when I first saw the ad I rolled my eyes, made a mental note to never buy a Figs product, and forgot all about it. But then came the apology. Just in case you have forgotten it, let me paste it here for your review:
A lot of you guys have pointed out an insensitive video we had on our site — we are incredibly sorry for any hurt this has caused you, especially our female DOs (who are amazing!). We dropped the ball and we are so sorry. We love you guys and we’ll always listen to what you have to say!
Here’s the deal. When you personally attack a group of bad-ass females and then haphazardly throw out an apology that lacks sentiment and sensitivity, I am forced to get involved. So I have a proposal for you. I propose that you start over with your apology. You start by making a public appearance and explaining to all of us female physicians and other female healthcare workers that you regret the nature of this advertisement and recognize the serious flaws in both character and judgment in producing it. Then explain how you are going to root out inherent sources of bias within your company which allow sexism and misogyny to thrive. Followed by an action item plan on how Figs is going to become a company whose core belief is women empowerment (by the way, Equity Quotient is available for consultation and they are pretty fantastic). Once you do these things, the few hundred thousand of us female physicians will stop our concerted effort to promote competing brands of scrubs. (This isn’t Mean Girl behavior, it’s justice.)
I eagerly await your response.
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