Abercrombie and Fitch CEO’S comment sparks controversy

The over-priced and over-perfumed brand Abercrombie and Fitch is being chastised in the media lately for not carrying XL and XXL women’s sizes in their stores because the CEO of the company only wants the “cool kids” to wear his company’s clothing.

Overweight women are not included in the A&F definition of the “in-crowd,” according to the personal opinion of Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries. In a 2006 Salon article, Jeffries was quoted as saying: “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.”

This makes me sick. How can someone be so openly unkind, not to mention stupid? We live in a pretty overweight country; A&F may have just lost a huge chunk of chunky customers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese.

Women are also singled out in this genius marketing decision, and that’s not okay. The men’s XL and XXL sizes were kept because the company wanted to appeal to large athletes, who are definitely considered the “cool” kids.

As if America doesn’t already have enough women with eating disorders and low self-esteem. Calling them out and saying they aren’t the “cool kids” because of their size feeds into the idea that one must be skinny to be beautiful.

The obesity epidemic is a serious problem in American society, but Jeffries’ statement also involves another major problem: bullying.

But excluding larger women from some sort of skinny people club is something that doesn’t seem strange for the clothing store, as they have always over-emphasized physical appearance by only hiring people they declare attractive.

“Are we exclusionary? Absolutely,” Jeffries told Salon. “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.”

Should someone break it to Jeffries that Abercrombie & Fitch is kind of a joke? I hate walking by that store – the aroma sticks to me even if I don’t go inside. The store is dark, the music is too loud and the shirtless men who stand by the entryway just look ridiculous and over-sexualized. Their clothes all look the same and do nothing to make a person’s style unique. You’d probably have better luck finding something original at Value World. But maybe I just have a different definition of cool.

What I do think is cool is a movement called “Fitch The Homeless,” which began in response to A&F’s “hip” marketing strategy. Greg Karber, who started the movement, bought up a handful of thrift store A&F clothes and began giving them out to homeless people, posting their pictures online in an effort to make the store the “Official Brand of the Homeless.” The movement encourages consumers to give away Abercrombie and Fitch clothing to a local homeless shelter.

Take away the trendy façade of exclusivity that A&F uses to entice customers and all that’s left is disgustingly overpriced, cheaply-made clothes.

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