Meet the Bean behind the boots

Meet the Bean behind the boots

This winter season, L.L. Bean’s Bean Boots have become a wardrobe essential for many Staples High School students. The waterproof duck boots are handcrafted in Maine and sold with a guaranteed lifetime warranty.

“They’re really warm and comfy,” Camille Boley ’19, one of Staples’ many Bean Boot fans, said.

However, Staples students might be unaware that the profits earned from sales of Bean Boots and other L.L. Bean products are being used to promote an extremely conservative political ideology.

Linda Lorraine Bean is the granddaughter of L.L. Bean founder Leon Leonwood Bean and an heiress to the family fortune. According to Forbes, her family is the 137th richest family in the country. Although the nature of Bean’s involvement with L.L. Bean is not entirely clear (as a privately-owned company, L.L. Bean does not publish an annual report or other corporate operational details), it has been reported that she is a significant shareholder and has served on the Board of Directors. Bean is also a former political candidate who fiercely opposes marriage equality, gun control laws and women’s reproductive rights.

Bean has used her fortune to contribute thousands of dollars to the Republican Coalition for Life, Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, Newt Gingrich’s GOPAC, Ron Paul’s Endorse Liberty Super PAC and the Constitution Party.

While Bean is an outspoken conservative, L.L. Bean as a company does not identify with any specific political party.

In a message posted on Facebook, the company stated, “L.L.Bean does not take positions on social policy issues. One of our shareholders, Linda Bean, has been specifically mentioned as being a contributor to the opposition of same sex-marriage. What shareholders do on their own is their business and the company does not speak for them.”

Bean, however, has flaunted her connection to the company.

In one of her 1992 television advertisements, Bean was shown walking through the stitching room where workers make the popular L.L. Bean boot. In an interview held at her campaign headquarters in Portland, Maine (also in 1992), Bean stated, “I’m proud of my name, it means integrity and reliability.”

Although L.L. Bean disavows responsibility for its owners’ political activities, Linda Bean uses her inherited wealth and fame as a platform to advocate for political conservatism.

Some Staples students may not disapprove of Linda Bean’s political activism. As long as L.L. Bean “keeps the boots/ products they sell the same and does not change their quality, then I do not really care what [Linda Bean] does with the money she inherits,” Boley said.

Other Staples students may be surprised to learn of Bean’s conservative political agenda. “I don’t think Staples students are aware of Linda Bean’s political convictions,” Bridget Mulloy ’19 said. While Mulloy admires the design of Bean Boots, she does not feel comfortable shopping at L.L. Bean because she disagrees with Bean’s ideology.

Mulloy added, “I know a lot of students who consider themselves liberals and feminists who wear these boots. I think if they were aware of the political [positions of] Linda Bean, they would not be purchasing anything from L.L. Bean.”