As if young women don’t already feel enough pressure and stress when it comes to their body image, the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch has made it perfectly clear that he doesn’t want anyone plus-sized (or even normal-sized) shopping in the chain’s stores because, apparently, they’re “not cool.”
In an interview with Salon, CEO Mike Jeffries described the brand’s target audience: “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 … 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. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. 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.”
Bullying from peers is bad enough. Bullying from an adult is unacceptable.
My Facebook feed has been lighting up the past few weeks with angry remarks towards the CEO:
“Thanks for contributing to the thousands of young girls with eating disorders and low self-esteem.”
“Makes me sick.”
“Zero is not a size.”
Most retail stores offer a range of sizes up to 14, and sometimes even larger. Jeffries says these larger sizes will not be found on the shelves of his stores. He claims that he does this to keep plus-sized women out of the store. The store stocks larger men’s sizes, but only because they want to cater to those athletic builds that are often large.
Abercrombie’s size chart begins at 000. Yes, there’s a 000, a 00, and a 0 before you get to size 2. To me, that is ridiculous. As one of my Facebook friends commented, “zero is not a size.” I feel that this perpetuates low self-esteem too because it makes women wearing a size 4 or 6 feel “fat” because they’re four or five sizes from the smallest. Not to mention how a woman who wears a size 10 or 12 (which is a healthy and normal size depending on the person's age and height) feels when she realizes that none of the clothes in the store are "big enough" to fit her body.
Jeffries went on to boast, “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.”
As you can imagine, the National Eating Disorders Association(NEDA) takes offense to Jeffries’ discriminatory marketing philosophy that fosters body shaming and insists that everyone boycott the company.