A Dedham mother has initiated a campaign to urge the clothing retail store Urban Outfitters to “clean up” its Dedham outlet by removing sexually-themed books or hide them from children.
Ann Hunnewell said she was shopping with her 13-year-old daughter at the Urban Outfitters store in Legacy Place last week when she noticed the titles of some books on the Valentine's-themed display. A few that jumped out were “Images You Should Not Masturbate to,” “Get Laid,” and “Position of the Day Playbook,” she said.
Hunnewell said she was disturbed to see the books in open display, but at first tried to let it slide. But the more she thought about it, the more it upset her, she said, so she started calling around.
She said after several voicemails and a letter to Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne, she received a letter from Tracey Strober, the company's senior store communications manager, stating that Hunnewell's concerns were shared with senior buyers, the chief merchandising officer, and the executive director of stores. It said nothing about removing or obscuring any item from the Dedham store's displays.
Urban Outfitters did not return multiple calls from the Globe seeking comment and has not communicated further with Hunnewell about her concerns.
Hunnewell said she does not believe in censoring the store or the books, but is asking that managers simply place the books out of view of minors, or remove them.
"I am not in favor of censorship, but I really would like to be able to let my daughter walk into Urban Outfitters without worrying that her young mind is bombarded with hard-core sex disguised with hearts and pink flowers," her letter to Urban Outfitters stated.
Since she sent the letter, Hunnewell has started a Facebook page called “Urban Outfitters: Clean It Up” and reached out to media outlets and local officials.
Dedham Selectman Paul Reynolds also wrote a letter to the company expressing support for Hunnewell’s campaign, and he has asked Dedham Building Commissioner Ken Cimeno to see whether the store’s display violated the town’s “Adult Uses” zoning bylaw.
Cimeno reported that he has reviewed the store and “found that it did not trigger any portion” of the bylaw, according to Reynolds in an e-mail.
Hunnewell said she’ll continue to inform other parents about the issue through her Facebook page and press the company for a response.
Natalie Feulner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.