When did calling people ugly become cool?
About ten years ago I was a young teenage girl. It seemed that all of the girls in my class were shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch. Though the store was incredibly loud, giving an almost instantaneous headache, and wreaking of cologne, it was where I wanted to shop. I wanted to look like those beautiful men and women in their ads and worked in their stores. I wanted to wear that coveted elk logo on a polo shirt, or wear the artfully deconstructed denim. No one could do it like A&F. I’d cry when the clothes didn’t fit and be upset that I couldn’t be part of that group, the one that the ads told me I needed to be a part of so I could be cool.
Today, I roll my eyes and laugh about how badly I wanted to shop there and think about the memories I have of attempting to find a fitting outfit. I grew up and, thankfully, realized that I didn’t really want to dress that way because those clothes were never meant for my body type, they weren’t really my style, and they were marketed to my pre-teen and teen self.
I don’t care that Abercrombie & Fitch caters to a specific audience. It doesn’t bother me that they only make smaller sizes or that they target teenagers. I might not agree with their marketing tactics, but I do have the option to take my business elsewhere. In fact, their targeting is no different than Lane Bryant designing clothes for plus size women, REI for outdoorsy folks, or the Men’s Warehouse for businessmen. A company can’t cater to everyone and the savvy businessperson will find a niche that best fits their style.
Yesterday I read an article about A&F and its CEO, as did much of the country. And I was outraged. It isn’t so much the company itself that pisses me off, but instead it is the CEO, Mike Jeffries (pictured below). As I’ve already stated, Abercrombie & Fitch can sell whatever they want to whomever they want. But to say that your style and size is what defines “beauty” and “cool” is completely wrong. Every woman (and man) is beautiful and no one person should be saying otherwise – whether that someone be Jeffries or an anonymous blog commenter.
I don’t care that Mike Jeffries, who is nearing 70, wants to dress like his target audience of pre-teens and teens, but please quit telling young men and women that their beauty is defined by their size. It’s not your or anyone’s place to tell kids that, just because they don’t fit your perfect ideal of beauty, they’re ugly. Junior high and high school can be miserable enough as a teenager without you, and subsequently worse with your company telling kids what’s beautiful and what’s not.
So, if beauty is not defined by others but by the individual, what do we have to choose our lovers by? I prefer to think of these features as attractions that all add up to someone’s attractiveness. The old saying would be better written as “attraction is in the eye of the beholder”. For friendship and respect, beauty is what matters and attraction is irrelevant. Attractiveness only matters for love and relationships. That said, I don’t think a CEO should be dictating absolutes about what’s “attractive” either. They can certainly try to sway my opinion – that’s marketing, politics, and life. But ultimately, the choice of attraction is mine and yours alone. For every individual it will be different. Some folks may be attracted most to someone who shares an interest in modern fashion. For others it may be an interest in the outdoors. For still others it could be that they have found the world’s most amazing smile. But whatever it is, it really is our own, not yet another company whose only goal is to make a profit.
I think all of us that fit outside of A&F’s size chart should be grateful that there are multiple retailers in the world willing to deny A&F’s size of beauty and instead stock sizes for us big, ugly, and uncool people as well. Because we’re just as beautiful.
Very well written Kate. I totally agree with you. What makes a person attractive is not a “size” thing. It’s so much more than that. And the companies or people who are so short-sighted as to limit their selective attraction are missing out life as it should be lived. You win and are a winner.
Thank you Terri!
I’m pretty sure that article outraged many. I’m probably A&F’s target audience, as a fourteen year old, but I find it so stupid how people shop there to be cool. This happened for my age group in my city a few years back but with a different store and it was just so ridiculous.
That article made me so angry. The CEO of A&F has no idea what beauty is. And I’m not going to let him sway my opinion of myself and my opinion of beauty because I know everyone is beautiful no matter what size, race, age, etc. It’s just silly, at the end of the day.
This post was so well written! I couldn’t have said it better myself. 🙂 x
The article was infuriating to so many! It will be interesting to see how this incident affects their sales, if it does at all. I’m very impressed with how plugged in you are to current events and that you have your own opinions and beliefs on current issues. I hope you never lose that and stay strong in yourself always!
Thanks for stopping by!
no offense Kate, I don’t think he meant for it to be rude
No offense, Alyson, but the “controversies” you’ve tried to spark on this blog have gone from eye-roll inducing to flat-out ridiculous.
Direct quotes from Mike Jeffries: “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids.” “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.” “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong.” “I don’t want our core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing our clothing.” If this asshat didn’t MEAN to be rude, then I certainly don’t know what he did mean. I’m not sure what disgusts me more, this grown man’s shallow and pathetic attitude or your defending him.
Some other bloggers you might want to tell that Jeffries didn’t mean to be rude (“no offense”):
You don’t think he meant to be rude? Wow. I just… wow. You really didn’t think he as trying to be rude. Instead of rude, how about elitist. Or moronic. That is really where he ended up. Looking like a moron.
What a shallow minded man. That’s all I want to say about that.
Finding individual identity in today’s society is nearly impossible. It seems like magazines, television, advertisements and the internet are busy telling people what they should and should not be more than they are expressing factual information. The age of information is a blessing and a curse as these things can be so harmful to so many! I’m grateful for blogs like yours which spread the positive message of style, fashion and self expression.
I remember the feelings I had about this and felt the same. I’m sick of people thinking they are “right” when it leaves out so many people. I just had an argument recently about this. When you have an opinion, it is that, an opinion, not right or wrong. But when you think your opinion is right…that’s when you have a problem. Respect everyone around you and their opinions, have your own opinions, but realize the diversity is what will hopefully keep this world moving forward.
Kate you captured Mike Jeffries to a T. Our society’s view of beauty is skewed to say the least…. And I can totally relate to AF clothes (and ALL jeans in general) never fitting my curves~ Growing up I only tortured myself and my Mom with jeans shopping max 1x a year! thankfully there are lots more options these days 🙂