Monday, 27 May 2013

Abercrombie and Fitch: 'We only want beautiful, skinny people to shop in our store'

Yep he (Mike jeffries A&F CEO) really had the balls to say that. Now, it's not often that things relating to body image in the media rumble me much. Yes it's demoralising to see stick thin models on the cat walk, on posters and in shop windows, when you're a 'normal' person (whatever that is!) let alone someone like me who's trying to recover from anorexia. I tell you- rehabilitating your skewed body image get's a hell of a lot harder when you are surrounded by all this shit. However, although it's not nice; it doesn't often bother me enough to write about it.

When I heard this story I was very dubious. I honestly didn't think someone who heads such a renowned brand would be so shockingly offensive when they are in such a media focal point. I feel in order to give this post validation I should transcribe Jeffries own words.

This statement appears to be in response to an accusation made against him that he was purposely excluding women of a certain size because A&F don't manufacture women's bottoms (trousers etc-not actual buttocks!) above a UK size 10. Here are some excerpts of his:

His reply to an interviewer who is asking about the big focus on sex appeal: "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"

Well I guess that explains the whole 'intimidating model' scene they have in their stores. Personally I find it really unappealing. Who wants to visit a store where they feel inferior to the shop assistants and I personally feel they are all looking down their perfectly proportioned noses at me all the while I'm in there. Don't get me wrong; I like an opportunity to ogle a fit guy as much as the next girl, but I don't feel comfortable browsing in a shop when they're stationed at at every rack, dazzling me with their white teeth, glossy hair and impeccable tans. Well not so much their teeth I guess because they never smile-If you're that beautiful it seems to be the rule that you have to look pissed off about it.

Jeffries explains his motives: “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids, 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."

I confess I am completely stumped by this statement. It is so arrogantly short sighted I can't believe he hasn't been overtly racist yet, and maybe he has- who knows; if he can get away with these statements then I wouldn't be surprised if he has been even more offensive. He is completely stereotyping and is full of skewed assumptions. I personally have found that the cool kids are the ones with deplorable attitudes and as for the 'lots of friends' part- well there's a difference between having lots of people like and admire you and then being in a circle of massively insecure kids who are all volleying for popularity in a soup of bitchiness and fake chumminess. I'd rather wear a bin bag, Mr Jeffries than wear your designer garb and be an obnoxious, self absorbed, vein 'cool kid'.

And lastly: "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"

Personally I think it's a sad state of affairs that people could ever be 'excited' by being simply being classed as 'skinny' enough to buy into a particular brand. I chased skinny for years, I became anorexic and went BEYOND skinny and I still wasn't satisfied, and I don't think I was ever 'excited'. It's a false horizon, girls. If gaining excitement and achievement were as simple as just getting skinny then life would be wonderful. Skinny brings you nothing in the end. Take it from the horses mouth (no pun intended!) 

As for companies that are 'in trouble'- huh!? I can think of quite a few companies who target a diverse market: Newlook- they even have their 'inspire' range for larger sizes, Next- cater for seemingly all ages and go up to large sizes as well as having a balance with a petite section, ASOS- an absolutely booming company with massive variations in sizes, ages etc. I could go on. Just like the afore mentioned school kids; you don't have to be mean and cliché to attract more people, you can be just as popular if you are wholly accepting and non-discriminatory. Being an inspirationally good person is just as powerful socially as being a mean and intimidating one is believe it or not. 

The aggravating part of this story is the fact that I know A&F won't lose out. Human psychology doesn't always bear out justice. It's clear that although Jeffries is an ugly, offensive, self assured prick he is also pretty knowledgeable about the way the public mind operates. Yes, there are going to be a large proportion of society that his exclusionary tactics alienate, but there is also a very high proportion of impressionable people who will be drawing the parallels between skinniness and desirability. Sadly I my self can identify with the latter attitude. I am angered by this state of affairs but if I could fit comfortably in A&F clothes I know a rebellious part of my mind would be very satisfied. I would feel 'approved' of. I am the sort of person who looks everywhere else for approval and assurance that 'yes I am ok', and it's all the other people like me who Jeffries will draw in. Unfortunately in our image orientated society more and more people are feeling the need to find approval from other people and other brands and companies, fewer and fewer people (I feel the need to express it seems to be largely the female) can find approval and acceptance from within themselves. 

Now to close this post I feel the need to indulge my more shallow side and point out how absurd it is that a man as BUTT UGLY as Jeffries can spout this guff about only wanting beautiful people.

Here we have the Drop Dead Gorgeous Mike Jeffries....

Now here is a veryyy skinny he'd be welcome in your clothes huh Mr J?

And yes, this woman CERTAINLY isn't beautiful and at a size 14 is 'not allowed'...

Point Made :)


  1. Well said Katie
    I wholeheartedly agree

    I read about this a couple of weeks ago and was beyond offended and appalled
    No wonder kids these days think that thin is the answer to everything
    No wonder the age of developing an ED is getting younger and younger
    What chance do they have when egotistical men like Jeffries open their mouths and spout such absolute crap

    I used to like A&F hoodies
    I was in their shop in London once and I wouldn't go back
    I don't want to be an A&F clone
    I would rather wear something more individual

    I wonder does this man have a family?
    Does he have children?
    Is this the message he wants to give to them

    Mike Jeffries, shut up
    You're just a small minded little man

    How's the view up there Ruby?
    Yes, I'm on my high horse now so I'll stop typing

    Hope you're well x

  2. Seriously I was just so shallow when I saw the photo of him at the start of the report- Pot calling the kettle black!!!!

    It's so sad that I just know so many younger people will be shocked but will follow the brand like sheep. The media is so powerful now that it seems a lot of people will do ANYTHING to fit in.

    I imagine the best feeling is having the self determination to be proud of your own skin, I'm not quite there yet but I still hope.


  3. Well this has certainly opened my eyes, and for that I say thank you!!!