Wednesday, May 08, 2013

An Open Letter To Abercrombie & Fitch

Dear Mr. CEO-Mr.-Big-Shot-Who-Do-You-Think-You-Are-Man:
I used to see your brand walk up and down the halls of my high school way back in the day. Before I really even knew who you were, there you were -- in the form of jeans, shirts and other fashion statements of the late '90s. At the time, I thought I hated you for the simple reason that the popular kids seemed to have a monopoly on you, and in my mind, popular was synonymous with evil. But, I'm older and wiser now, and know it's not that popular-kid mentality that I loathe.

It's your "You're-not-good-enough" mentality.

Because, let's just be real for a minute here. We both know that's the whole crux of your marketing objective -- to make young women self-conscious and inferior. You want them to look at your perfectly crafted ads and stare longingly at your perfect models wearing your perfect clothes. And then you want them to do everything they can to become part of your own "in" crowd. You want them to change. And if they don't, well, you want to have nothing to do with them. It's true. You've actually said it yourself. You don't want what you call "fat chicks" wearing your brand; bad for business, huh? Maybe that's why you refuse to carry any size larger than a 10?

You spoke to Robin Lewis for his book The New Rules of Retail, who says...

“He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people. He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”
Honestly, your views are just disgusting. Your attitude toward plus-sized women is inexcusable. It's this sort of fat-shaming that is creating this culture where young women feel like they can't be who they are, where they must fit into some sort of mold because they're nothing if they're not skinny. Skinny is beauty. Skinny is perfection. Anything other than that is just plain worthless.

Three words: Shame on you. No, wait, I've got nine words for you: You. Are. A. Sorry. Excuse. For. A. Human. Being. A sorry, pitiful excuse, indeed. I could think of other choice words, but I like to think I'm a lady and all, so I'll just keep those words to myself. But do you want to know what's really disgusting? People who perpetuate such superficial stereotypes and only look at beauty in terms of black and white with zero shades of gray in the middle. And what's even more despicable? People who seeks to capitalize by preying on young women's shaky self-confidence. Young women have a hard enough time trying to figure out who they are in this big world -- don't make their journey even harder and even more complicated.

So I don't look like one of your scantily clad, perfectly proportioned models. I get that. I know that. And believe it or not, I'm really OK with that. I know I'll never have a body like that. But here's the best part: I don't want a body like that. Ever. There's something incredibly sexy and attractive about being real and being who you are. I wouldn't ever want to fall in love with someone who was pretending to be someone else, so why would I accept anything less for myself?
You want only good-looking and skinny people associated with your brand? OK, fine. I'd rather have real any day.

P.S. You brand yourself as being the casual, all-American style. Hmmm, looks like you might have some re-branding work ahead of you. I'm not industry expert, obviously, but something tells me that "Casual, all-American style as long as you're under a size ten; fatties need not apply" isn't the best slogan. Just a thought.

[Photos via We Heart It]

21 comments:

Lena at A Crimson Kiss said...

Here f-ing here!

Grace Martin said...

Last time I ever buy anything from Ambercrombie. What a joke.

Just because someone personally doesn't like fat people is no excuse to create an environment where they aren't accepted and then launch it all over an entire country.

Melissa Blake said...

EXACTLY, Grace!!

RitaMarie said...

Wow! I had no idea that was the mindset of his store's even today.

Every year, my summer wardrobe gets stocked with A & F shorts and skirts. Not this year. Nope.

What a wonderful post. Thank you.

RitaMarie said...

Also:

"There's something incredibly sexy and attractive about being real and being who you are. I wouldn't ever want to fall in love with someone who was pretending to be someone else, so why would I accept anything less for myself?"

Amen.

Self-acceptance is damn sexier than anything else. I am working on that all the time.

Katie McC said...

I am a retail merchandising major and in school we discussed a lot about visionary leaders and those who are successful and have re-branded companies who were failing. Almost all of the CEO's and leaders were exceptional besides one...and I am sure you can guess which one. He was the one and only leader who had extremely bad morals, attitude and company ethics. Not one of our group presentations had anything positive to say about him as far as a leader. So it's understandable as to why the "A&F" view is this way. Hopefully some day in the future, there will be a new visionary leader who will change the dynamic of the company into a more positive and uplifting message for it's shoppers.

ananchorage said...

If anyone decides not to purchase his clothing, be sure and write to the company and tell them his remarks are offensive. It doesn't matter if you fit in the clothing or not.

Back in the stone age, I was a cute, skinny teenager. Our little town was in the middle of nowhere with only a Wal-mart. Popular or not, you wore stuff from Wal-Mart.

I guess it was the great equalizer in some ways. We still all knew who the popular, cool kids were.

It sure wan't my cute, skinny self, though, so if that's the criteria---how come I wan't the homecoming queen?

Gloria

Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird said...

That's so disgusting and offensive and I will be writing Abercrombie to let them know I feel that way.

Someone ought to post a picture of him and we'll see how many people find him attractive.

People like him are what's wrong with the world.

Layla said...

What I think is especially sad about all of this is that the CEO hates himself in his natural state so much, that he had some pretty hacked up plastic surgery done to his face...all to, what? Fit in? Find himself more beautiful? I'm not against plastic surgery at all - I think people do what they need to do - but I think this man has an obvious need to learn to love and accept himself as is. Maybe then, he could learn to love and accept everyone else as they are. His perfection was certainly not attained (quite the contrary, it's scary) so I don't know why he holds everyone else to such high standards.

Laura said...

such a great post! x

Erika said...

I'm honestly interested to see what type of impact this has on sales since this came out. :/

Ashley Bee said...

Great post, I'm sure it'll fall on deaf ears if he happens to see it, but you're echoing what we're all thinking.

I used to scrape together my pennies to buy those stupid flimsy t-shirts. No longer. Not for years now, but this ensures I never will step inside that disgusting smelling store again.

Jennifer Beaudet said...

I've never liked their clothes for this very reason. I don't even like the atmosphere in their stores. Thanks for addressing this Melissa!

Chrissy said...

Love this post, Melissa! I just read about all this yesterday and I have to say how disappointing I think this is! How can someone have such an opinion? Who does he think he is? And I have to agree with Jennifer, I never really liked the atmosphere in those stores...it screams: "Fat people, get out of here!" Never liked walking into one of them and wasn't sad seeing one leave our local mall! Thanks for this post! xxx

sinogra said...

I love your letter! Well written! :)

goingloopy said...

The other thing I found interesting is that he carries larger sizes for men because of "large male athletes." Because clearly, all female athletes are under size 10, right? /facepalm

Chloe Moon said...

I'm literally applauding and go "HELL YEAH MELISSA". You are a hundred percent right! I never went in there to begin with and I will make sure I never will.

Ergo-Blog

Dancing Branflake said...

Yep. A rock star. Y

Dancing Branflake said...

I got cut off.

You said it better than I could have. Thanks for saying what I want to say.

Elsa de Diego said...

Brilliant post! I am so sorry because teenagers are so vulnerable and easy to manipulate. Grr...anyway...A&F doesn't represent All American style. And it looks like they are also having a mid-life branding crisis (after the whole 'situation' with the guy from Jersey Shores)I pity them! Thanks for this! Xo,

Susan Rosalin said...

Nice post.Love the letter.Written greatly.

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