No Fatties Allowed? Okay.

So, Mike Jeffries, huh?

Perhaps you’ve heard about some comments made by the Abercrombie and Fitch CEO in a 2006 Salon article.  Comments regarding the preferred clientele of his brand, brought up again by Robin Lewis, co-author of The New Rules of Retail.  See, A&F stores don’t sell women’s clothing above a size Large.  That is because their CEO doesn’t want any fatties or uglies wearing his brand.  Here’s a quote from the aforementioned article.

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.

To be clear, this guy:

This guy is concerned about how people look in A&F clothes.  That guy right there.  Who obviously owns no mirrors.  But let’s not take it there.

I personally have no problem with the fact that I would likely be laughed out of any Abercrombie & Fitch store due to my size. I am a happy 32-year old woman with a beautiful family and am very pleased with my life.  Mr. Meltyface’s opinion on whether or not I’m hot enough or thin enough to wear his brand means nothing to me.  The ones I do worry about are young, impressionable teenage girls {and guys} who now may think that they are too fat or not cool enough to wear what is unfortunately apparently a staple on high school campuses these days.  I’m not sure anybody at my high school wore A&F clothes.  None of the cool kids did, anyway.  Maybe it was just after my time.  I can’t even remember what the “cool kids” in high school wore {aside from the Tommy Hilfiger collared shirt phase}.  Which is kind of awesome that coolness wasn’t really determined by the clothes your parents bought.

But Jeffries states that he panders to the “cool kids” and wishes to exclude anyone who doesn’t look like they belong in an A&F Quarterly.  What happens when the cool kids start wearing a certain style or brand or start speaking a certain way or using a new slang word?  It spreads.  A trickle-down effect happens, and before you know it, everyone in the school is rushing out for that new sneaker or denim wash or using words like gnarly and totes.  So what happens when that girl who still has a bit of baby fat goes into an A&F and they don’t carry the jeans that everyone has in a size 12?  Or the girl who has developed early and needs an XL shirt to accommodate her new physique, only to find the size L too small?  Or the geeky guy who is just desperate to be accepted by anyone, who goes into A&F with his own hard-earned money to buy a shirt with their stupid logo splashed all over it in hopes that one of the “cool kids” will look at him the next day and say “hey, nice shirt,” only to feel intimidated and looked down on by the modelesque sales associates who are trained to market only to good-looking, thin people? What will they take away from their trip to the mall?  That they’re not pretty enough.  They’re not thin enough.  They’re not cool enough.  All because a store didn’t carry an article of clothing in their size.  They will walk away believing that their self worth is tied to their appearance, and because one store who holds itself out as a bastion of “coolness” doesn’t carry their size they will be defeated and feel like they don’t and won’t ever belong.  They will be pushed even further out of the circles that society is telling them they need to be accepted by.

Where do they go from there?  Steroids?  Eating disorders?  Plastic surgery {of which Mr. Jeffries is apparently a big fan}?  And what if the problem isn’t physical, it’s just that they aren’t “cool”?  Depression?  Drug use?  Suicide?  I know I’m taking that to an extreme, but teenagers can be unbelievably cruel.  I know.  I was one.  I wasn’t even one of the most popular kids and I still look back on some of the things I said and did and cringe.  And I considered myself to be a pretty nice person.  I just hate to think that my kids would be on either side of that coin.  I don’t want them making anyone feel unworthy or bad about themselves for not being in the popular crowd, nor do I want my kids to have their own self worth damaged by someone else who buys into Mr. Jeffries’ world view wherein people are to be judged on their appearance and only those deemed attractive are worthy of respect, friendship, and love.  Maybe I’m a little too invested in this both as someone who is overweight and as someone who has dealt with ED, but I don’t want to send my children out into a world where this line of thought exists.  I want my children to know that every person has worth, no matter their size or shape.  It’s not just about the clothes, you guys.

And now it’s time for my snarky side commentary.  Even when I was a size 8 {and at 6 feet tall, that is quite thin} and on top of my game as far as physical appearance goes, you could not have paid me to buy clothes from A&F.  Their stores are completely obnoxious, the sales associates are largely vapid and giggly teenagers, and the clothing is bland and overpriced.  I can’t even stand walking past the door of A&F.  It is so loud, reeks of bad cologne, and I would need a flashlight to see anything in there.  And you know who wore A&F when I was younger?  Douchebags.  Douchebags and a-holes.  If that’s the clientele they’re after, then go for it.  Because alienating a big percentage of the population certainly can’t hurt sales, can it?  Maybe Mr. Jeffries has forgotten who makes the majority of teenagers’ clothing purchases:  their parents.  And the skinny kid who makes the A&F cut just might have a plus-size mom, like me.  And Mr. Meltyface can rest assured that not a dime of my money will ever be spent at one of his stores.  Keeping a fatty out of Abercrombie & Fitch:  ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.

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