Ugh. That’s how I can best sum up my reaction to this Business Insider article about Abercrombie & Fitch and their absurd body-shaming. Wait, maybe “ugh” isn’t exactly right. Maybe something more gibberish-y, like “lskjdflksjdlfkjsdf” is right.
Let me start this off by saying that this article made me regret the unfortunate hundreds of dollars I spent collectively at Abercrombie & Fitch when I was in high school and college. Yes, I admit it – I used to shop there. I thought the destroyed jeans were adorable and I, for some reason, adored the preppy polo shirts and overly-scented sweatshirts (I have to admit, their sweatshirts are super soft). Even when I was obsessed with Abercrombie (or Aber, as my friends and I affectionately named it), I heard horrible stories about the store and the brand. They were so awful that I slowly stopped shopping there. And now with this story? I think it’s safe to say I’ll never spend my money there again.
According to Robin Lewis, co-author of the book The New Rules of Retail and CEO of the newsletter The Robin Report, Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries has been participating in some serious body-shaming. According to Robin, “He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people. He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.'”
If you’ve ever shopped at Abercrombie and Fitch before, you may have noticed that women’s sizes don’t go larger than size “Large” (And, let’s face it, Abercrombie’s large is actually pretty tiny). You may have also noticed that women’s jeans don’t go larger than a size 10. A size 10! While men’s sizes do up to XXL, Robin says that is most likely because some athletic guys with a lot of muscle need larger sizes. So, basically, Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries doesn’t want any larger people shopping in his store.
RAGE. SO MUCH RAGE.
Here are some things that will make you even more angry. In case you thought Robin might be jumping to conclusions, Mike had some stuff to say about this himself. In a 2006 interview with Salon, Mike explained how sex appeal is the core of Abercrombie: “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.”
He also doesn’t seem to care at all that he’s alienating people based on something as superficial as their size. He said, “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.”
Wow. Where do I even begin?
While it’s not abnormal for a specialty retail store like Abercrombie to market to a specific group of people (think Adidas marketing to more athletic types or Express marketing to working women), it’s just really not cool for Abercrombie to refuse to sell larger sizes simply because the CEO deems larger people “not cool.” What is that?! So, just because someone wears a size 12 or a size 22, they’re not cool enough for you? That’s really the message you want to send? In my opinion, that’s disgusting.
As if this horrible body-shaming weren’t enough, Abercrombie & Fitch has also been accused, in the past, of being too racist. If you remember, a few years ago there was a ton of news about how Abercrombie and Hollister (owned by the same company) only hired white employees. And if you’ve ever shopped at either store, it’s hard to argue with that. There were a lot of lawsuits happening and the whole thing was just awful.
So, yeah, I’m pretty much done with Abercrombie – and you should be too. We should be accepting of everyone’s bodies. We shouldn’t be judging people on how “cool” they are based on what size clothing they wear. We shouldn’t be judging people on how “cool” they are, period. Who is Mike Jeffries to say that larger people aren’t cool enough to shop in his store? Buying their clothing is supporting their store and I am definitely not about to support a company that openly body-shames people and makes people feel badly about themselves. Get it together, Abercrombie. Or maybe just go away altogether. I think we’ll learn to live without the throbbing techno music blasting through the mall and the nausea-inducing scent of your store, anyway.
Do you shop at Abercrombie and Fitch? Does all of this information make you really angry? Are you going to stop shopping there? Tell us in the comments.