I’m going to start off by asking you to think back to 2006. Remember 2006? Not a whole lot has changed since then, so it shouldn’t be too hard. I think Silly Bandz were about to come into fashion for youngsters. Good. They needed something they can look back on with shame and horror like we look back on snap bracelets. If you don’t remember snap bracelets, you are either too young to be reading this blog or older than I am. If the latter is the case, feel free to think of a once popular but now infamous fashion accessory from your childhood.
Wait, where was I? Ah, yes. 2006. That’s the year when Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries gave a rather unfortunate interview to Salon.com. In this interview, he said some things that, well, weren’t that awesome. Among the words he uttered were gems like:
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids …Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
And then there’s this, about building his business around sex appeal:
“It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”
Abercrombie doesn’t carry any women’s sizes above a size 10. XL and up are completely out. However, they do carry XL and up for men, just not women. I guess women above a 10 just aren’t pretty. Or cool. Or have sex appeal. The thing is these statements probably would have been lost to time if not for an article in the Business Insider reprinting them recently. News of Abercrombie and Jeffries’s feelings have spread across the internet, prompting parents to refuse to buy clothes for their children there and even removing previously purchased items from their closets.
Honestly, a size 10 really isn’t that big. When I discussed this with a tall, very trim friend of mine, she said, “I’d barely be able to squeeze in.” Need a visual reference? Check out model Jennie Runk. She was featured in H&M’s beachware collection and is supposed to be a “plus-sized” model. She’s reportedly a size 12. Go take a look. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
That beautiful, healthy, completely not overweight woman would technically be too fat to shop at Abercrombie. Does that seem right to you?
I want to say something to you, A&F. I say this as a former uncool kid. I say this as a former outcast. I say this as a former fat kid that grew into a healthy adult. I say this as a person that apparently never belonged in your clothes. Bullying in schools is already ridiculously horrible. Do you understand what I’m saying to you? Children are killing themselves over the kind of sentiments you are so flippant about. Not being able to be cool. Not being able to be thin. Not being able to belong in the supposed golden fleece that is Abercrombie & Fitch clothing. Are you insane? How can you possibly think this is OK to publicize? You’ve given struggling children one more thing to struggle against. Shame on you! On what planet do you think these kinds of statements are responsible?
Here’s the thing. Us former outcasts? We’re grown-ups now. Our completely uncool hitting of the books and making good grades and caring for our minds paid off. And now we have…wait for it…money. And we have children. We have children and money. Do you see where I’m going with this? We, as parents, won’t be spending money with you. We remember what it’s like to “not belong” in your clothes. But I guess I shouldn’t expect any sensitivity from a company that actually thought it would be a good idea to sell a line of girls’ t-shirts that said really winning statements like, “Why do I need brains when I have these?” and “I had a nightmare that I was a brunette.”
You want to cater specifically to a set range of sizes? Do so. Lot’s of stores do it. Some stores are specifically for tall, or short, or full breasted. All you have to say is, “We specialize in clothes between sizes ____ and ____.” You won’t be faulted for having a specialty. But don’t you dare, don’t you dare even pretend for one minute that your negativity somehow makes you better. Don’t you dare try to teach children and teens that those that wear your clothes are the cool ones and their peers are losers. Don’t you dare feed the self-esteem poison that is causing misery across the country. Just…just shame on you. I’m horrified.