By MELISSA WELLHAM
“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.”
So said Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries back in 2006, in an interview with Salon.
It seems impossible that he could not have predicted what would be unleashed – at least eventually – with such a statement. Maybe times were different then. Maybe people were only starting to get onto the ‘body positive’ bandwagon. But that was then – and this is now.
Unfortunately for Jeffries, his comments from 2006 ignited controversy recently when a magazine called Business Insider mentioned them in an interview with Robin Lewis, author of The New Rues of Retail.
Lewis did not hold back in describing the company.
She said, “[Jeffries] 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.’”
And then what happened?
Well, nothing happened from Jeffries’ end. But a lot happened everywhere else.
The internet went wild.
A petition was started on Change.org, asking A&F to “stop telling teens they aren’t beautiful; make clothes for teens of all sizes.”
The petition was signed 68,000 times.
Ellen DeGeneres spoke out criticising Jeffries’ comments, too. Ellen asked, clearly perturbed, “Since when was something over a size ten, plus-size?”
She continued, “Beauty isn’t between a size zero and a size eight, it is not a number at all, it is not physical. What you look like on the outside is not what makes you cool. At all. I mean, I had a mullet and I wore parachute pants for a long, long time. And I’m doing okay. What’s important is that you’re healthy and you’re happy. That’s the most important thing.” You can watch the rest of her amazing skit below:
A man named Greg Karber decided that Abercrombie and Fitch needed a ‘brand readjustment’, and so took to the streets, where he started handing out second-hand A&F clothes to homeless people.
Jes M Baker from blog ‘The Militant Baker’ decided to star in her own Abercrombie & Fitch ads – or rather, Fat & Attractive ads – in the style that A&F usually employs.
She wrote, “The only thing you’ve done through your comments is reinforce the unoriginal concept that fat women are social failures, valueless, and undesirable. Your apology doesn’t change this.”