There Are Worse Things a Person Could Be

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This week, Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries made headlines on his marketing strategy. I am not sure why this is such a big topic of discussion now, as the quote from below came out in 2006, but none the less, it is.

In an interview with Salon he said,

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “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. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either,”

Now, as a “not-so-cool” kid and an overweight woman, I was immediately taken back. While being exclusionary is no secret in marketing, and yes, it is true, there are all kinds of social statuses in High School, this kind of crass and overly-bold attitude is what set most people off.

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A & F CEO Mike Jeffries

This is not the first time Abercrombie and Fitch has gotten in trouble for being exclusionary. In 2011, they were sued for religious discrimination for demanding that a teen who worked there remove her Hijab (religious head covering) because it “violated their look”. This was after she had been told she would be able to wear it.

Again, in 2009, they were sued by a disabled woman who worked in the store. The 22 year old woman was hired in a British store and was told that she could wear a cardigan to cover her prosthetic arm, only to be told the cardigan violated their “look policy” and she was moved to the stockroom.

A & F really does feel that overweight people should not be wearing their clothing so much that they do not carry a shirt size larger than a “Large” or pants size larger than a 10. I can tell you, when I was average wieght (5 ft 8 and 140 lbs), I wore a 10. I was by no means “fat”.

As the mother of a pre-teen, I am always worried about how my little girl will handle the social pressures to be thin, beautiful, attractive and “cool”. I spent way too much time as a teen and even a young adult trying desperately to be that. While I was average in weight for my age as a young person, I constantly felt like I was not good enough. I even suffered from an eating disorder later in my teens because I so desperately wanted to fit in.

What strikes me as odd here, is the attitude that attractive people have a lot of friends and attractiveness and thinness is what is “all-American”. Since when did thin=attractive and overweight = un-American? I almost find that to be an oxymoron considering in America, we have an obesity epidemic. I also think Mike Jeffries needs to grow up and get away from his days in High School.

I am not saying that thin people aren’t attractive or that overweight people are all healthy. I am simply saying that when will we, as a society get away from this attitude that thin and attractive is all that matters? Hundreds of kids commit suicide every year either by taking on an eating disorder that slowly robs them of their life or ending it one day with their own hands because they have had it pounded into thier head that they are not good enough because they are overweight or “ugly”. I know what that feels like as I was once a teen with suicidal thoughts because I thought I wasn’t worth anything because of these issues. We have to stop this kind of message dead in it’s tracks before more precious lives are lost.

This kind of bully on the playground attitude is what is wrong with America and frankly it is very un-American as we have always been a melting post of different folks-including those who are “not so cool” and those who have a larger body size.

All I know is this just furthers my reason for never shopping in that cologne stench filled “store”.  I was already disgusted by the overly sexual advertizements geared towards young people. Since they want to be so crass, they don’t need my money, either. This means our local Hollister in the mall, since they own that brand as well.

What are your thoughts on this? Is this simply a marketing technique and people are being too sensitive or does this anger you?

7 Replies to “There Are Worse Things a Person Could Be”

  1. You hit the nail right on the head and said everything I think. I think that it’s a pitty that this will actually more than likely bring this company sales, but as an overweight woman as well I can tell you if I were thin id never shop there and my first thoughts when this was released was thinking about the younger generation and the suicide rates and how they’ve gone up. This is crazy that they would not haven even thought of that.. how much pressure teenagers put on each other, the media, television, actresses, actors and so on put on these little beings to be what’s cool. I just really hope that they don’t look at this statement he made and think they have to be something they are not and feel they need to change themselves or that they aren’t good enough. Well said, Christine!
    Sarah Morgan recently posted..Making Memories with Best Buy!My Profile

  2. Kim Bergeron says: Reply

    Nice article!!! Very well said!

  3. It’s a shame that not everyone can be accepting and open. At least there are plenty of brands out there that don’t do this!
    Jeana recently posted..Mexico Destination Wedding: Now Amber (Puerto Vallarta)My Profile

  4. Well, A&F will no longer get my business. If that’s what being one of the cool kids is, then I don’t want to be a part of it. On one hand a applaud them for knowing who their target market it but geez, describe it in a different way. Have a little couth.
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  5. My response to this is that you can never have too many friends! Not everyone realizes this.

  6. Yep this company totally alienated me.
    Crystal A. recently posted..Conscious Box GiveawayMy Profile

  7. I hope America stands up for all and boycotts a & f. Have people stand outside of the store like PETA groups and yell out “superficial” at people who leave the store, maybe throw some French fries at them. I applauded everyone who does not and will not shop there.

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