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No Fat Girls Allowed at Abercrombie and Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries makes no buts about his company’s target demographic: really, ridiculously, good looking people. Jeffries has been at the helm of A&F for 18 years, and has sexualized the brand to near soft core pornography status. If you’ve ever been in one of the chain’s stores—more akin to a club with its pungent fragrance and techno racket—you’ve probably noticed the lack of women’s size XL and XXL clothing. A&F also refuses to carry a women’s pant larger than size 10. They only carry men’s XL and XXL to market to beefy weightlifters and athletes.

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These shallow tactics aren’t employed by accident. The company’s marketing strategy is solely geared towards their idea of “good looking” people. Jeffries told Salon in 2006, “It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good looking people in our stores. Because good looking people attract other good looking people…We don’t market to anyone other than that.”

Along with not selling clothing that doesn’t fit Jeffries’ “good looking” criteria, A&F does not hire people they find too large or ugly. The hiring process is bizarre, with the manager scouting the store for attractive people and imploring them to apply. Of course anybody can apply, but the process takes place at a kiosk in the store, so the manager can give you the once over and file your app accordingly.

Why in 2013 is one of the world’s largest clothing chains allowed to exist with such discriminatory tactics? Where’s the scorn from social media? Just last week a CBS columnist was fired and met with widespread public disdain for calling an Oklahoma City Thunder cheerleader chunky, and Jeffries and Co. are essentially doing the same thing, but without consequence. A&F’s thinly veiled misogyny is not technically illegal, but it brings shame on a society that’s been focused on social equality for the past 200 years.

A&F’s current sizes would be too small to fit the scores of trim and beautiful female athletes at our high schools, colleges, and professional organizations. Heck, Marilyn Monroe couldn’t even squeeze into the skimpy, scant clothing at Abercrombie & Fitch. It’s unfortunate that the chain’s target demographic are impressionable teens, some of which don’t need the added stress of conforming to unrealistic standards.

Do you think Abercrombie and Fitch’s tactics are appropriate? Do you believe it’s their right as a company to market to and hire whomever they choose?

 

May 8th, 2013

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