Does Abercrombie & Fitch Hate Your Body?

abercrombie and fitch ad

An Abercrombie ad – I guess this is who they want shopping at their stores?

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.


Abercrombie and Fitch ad

Another ad.

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.


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  • Natalia

    i always shop at abercrombie, and I’m not fat and pretty popular. but i never knew about abercrombie discriminating people like this. i think that its unacceptable of abercrombie’s CEO saying this. I’m not american, I’m indian. i know the general stereotype about us, but I’m usually the one walking around breaking that stereotype. I’m prettier than all the indians in my grade, and I’m actually prettier than most of the white people too, and i shop at abercrombie and many stores like that. but i don’t know if i am going to still shop there, because of this discrimination. i really like their clothes, and some of their dresses are adorable, though ver over priced. I’m not sure exactly what i am going to do about this.

  • Nandini

    I went to A & F once, to try on some jeans just because I was curious. I’m tall, a little overweight, and not white, and I don’t consider myself too too bad looking, but when I walked in, the salesgirl, who had the longest fake eyelashes ever and a short crop top on, gave me a scathing look. When I asked her for help, she told me that 10 was the largest size they had and it probably wouldn’t fit me. I tried them on anyways and they didnt fit so when i came out of the dressing room and put them back, the look on her face was so smug I wanted to cry. My mom was so mad she was thisclose to staring a riot in the store. Never been in there ever again.

  • Saeryen

    WHY would you do that?! This owner is just…UGH! Mega ugh! I have never shopped there.

  • Alex

    If the racism part is proven to be accurate then yeah you won’t find me shopping at Abercrombie anymore. I actually don’t even like the style of the clothes that much and I think only selling to ‘cool’ kids is shallow and ridiculous. HOWEVER, I do love that Abercrombie is not jumping on the fat pride wagon by making sizes to accommodate people who are overweight with terribly unhealthy eating habits. If more stores made it harder for these people to continue eating the way they do and being as big as they are there wouldn’t be as big of an obesity crisis in the US. Keep making it easy to be fat and people will keep being fat. Simple. There really isn’t any reason for a girl to be bigger than a large (I highly doubt many girls are THAT big boned or THAT muscular) and any boy to be bigger than an XXL. I know there are a small minority of people that are overweight due to thyroid issues and other health problems that cause weight gain but the vast majority of Americans are fat because of what they eat. Eat right and exercise and you will fit into clothes ANYWHERE.

    • You can’t judge somebody’s health by the size they wear at a mass retailer. There are plenty of unhealthy people with terrible eating habits that fit into a size small, and there are plenty of people who have healthy diets who wear an XL.

      • Savannah

        To a certain extent, I agree with Alex. I never really cared for Abercrombie in the first place. Their shirts are decent but thats about it. I know some people can’t help their weight due to disease and genetics, and its okay to be a tad overweight, as long as your health isn’t in jeopardy. But there is fine line between someone who can’t help it and someone who has a problem with overeating junk and deliberately not exercising. How can you be prideful about your body if you’re on the verge of dying from preventable disease caused by constant over-indulgence and lack of activity? We need to seriously stop this war between ‘anorexic’ and ‘obese’ if we’re going to make progress with the ending of body shaming. Why can’t we all strive to be healthy?

    • Mary

      How about we focus less on the bigger clothes but the type of food is sold and the availablity of both exercise and nutritious food. And I don’t know where you come from where everyone is under a large, but there is such a thing as a healthy woman who is above a large due to things like breast size, or having bigger curves. Sorry if I sound mean, but even though you might’ve wanted to be positive in the beginning, you ended up body shaming people just like A&F has done.

    • Natalia

      yeah i agree with you. i like abercrombie a lot and I’ve been shopping there for years, but i never knew about this discrimination before. i still love their clothes, especially their dresses, but i don’t know if i will still shop their as much as i used to.

  • Groupiegrrl

    I am very proud to say that I have NEVER purchased anything from Hollister or Abercrombie, or even tried anything on from those stores. And I’m certainly not going to start.

  • Aoife

    I was in the new store that opened up in Dublin, where I live, and honestly I thought the clothes and the scent was amazing. I tried on a couple of the tops, which suited me and fitted well on me but the jeans did not go near me. I’m a size 14, I’m not fat but I’ve wide hips and a big bum. I’m proud of my figure, sure I could shed a few pounds here and there but if I went to size 10, I wont look healthy, especially because of my height. I can’t believe Mike Jeffries, he’s a terrible person. He has no right to say who’s cool or not because of their weight. In that case, he shouldn’t wear the brand. He’s not exactly “fit” or a “hunk”. I feel ashamed I was once in love with the brand..

  • ashley

    I agree with this article EXCEPT i have 3 black/latina friends who work at Abercrombie or Hollister, and last time i went to Hollister there were 2 black employees that i saw. but other than that, i love this article!

  • ritaaL

    I actually buy quite a lot of stuff from hollister, and I dont buy it to be cool because just wearing one “popular” brand doesnt make you cool. I can say im cool because I have loads of friends and people like me. Abercrombie really need to fix their marketing strategies since they dont even have one if they are targeting “cool” people. I think its absolutely ridiculous what theyre doing. I live in london and at hollister the staff are very in different ethnicities and not all of the girls are size 0 and whatever. They have started to accept a wider range of people but the sizes still dont change.

  • Jelly

    All the “cool kids” at my school never wore Fitch, in fact you looked stupid wearing it. The cool kids wore whatever and where cool because they weren’t exclusive, they made everyone laugh and were hella chill. What you wear has no indication on if you’re cool or not and size has no indication on how cool you are either. I think it’s stupid but in the end he’s only hurting his bussiness. His job app. also says you have to be attrative to work there, what constatutes as attractive? To me all sizes are beautiful

  • Xx1belle5xX

    One of the popular kids at my school is fat. And so is another and another. Mainly because they’re freaking funny, but still my school is an example that you can be cool and fat at the same time. I don’t know if I want to shop there now….they probably wont let me in there cause I have severe acne anyways. :/

  • Emily

    I guess that’s why there’s not really anything special about Abercrombie clothes. People just buy them because it means they are “cool”, not because they actually like the clothes.

    I once went past one of their shops to see a massive queue of girls waiting to have a photograph with a shirtless very muscular guy. I guess that’s their way of making the brand popular.

  • Eleanor

    Isn’t that just all, like, UGH?!

  • Eleanor

    Also, I’m not sure if Abercrombie does this as well, but Hollister destroys their unsold clothes instead of donating them, because if poor people wear them, it gives them a bad image.

    • Fran

      That is absolutely disgusting. Also, that explains why I’ve never seen Hollister or A&F stuff in charity shops.

  • Jodi

    I’ve also heard that they burn their out of date stock rather than giving them to charity shops/in the bin so homeless people won’t wear them

  • Magaly this is the link to a few pictures and quotes from the owner of A & F, I think he can’t wear his own clothes according to him

  • Rizza

    What’s this? Did we just find a grown-up, male version of Regina George? O_o

  • mersades

    This use to be my favorite store. Not anymore. this store stupidity. yxyhbloigfkhghgdgfa. Im done

  • Alicia

    Been in there, hate it. Plus, not selling larger sizes is a bad marketing decision. I can just hear all the girls walking out and not buying anything cause they don’t think that they could look good in their clothes.

  • Madeleine

    And they think it is a surprise that all of their stores are projected to be shut down by 2015?

    Xoxo M