Recently, backlash from a 2006 interview with Mike Jeffries, CEO of clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch, (which is the parent company for Hollister) has gone viral and has even resulted in a campaign designed to throw egg on the face of Jeffries and A&F as well as to benefit the homeless.
During the '06 interview, the then 61 year old Jeffries stated that A&F only hires "good-looking" people because, "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."
If that wasn't bad enough, Jeffries went on to say, "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. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."
And just one more thing; the largest size sold at A&F for women is a size 10.
So if you are overweight, unattractive and un-cool, you don't belong in their stores or in their clothes.
This is fine by me because I always found them to be over-priced and pretentious and never shopped there even when I could fit into their clothes; but the message sent by those words and practices could really take a toll on teenage girls and others struggling with self-esteem issues.
Recent responses to these remarks (albeit seven years later) have been quite creative. Some people have chosen to boycott the company altogether while others have taken to the thrift shops and yard sales in order to make their statement.
I have seen several pictures on the internet showing big women wearing A&F apparel while giving Jefferies the one finger salute. One big girl even did a provocative black and white photo shoot (in the A&F marketing style) to show that A&F now means "Attractive & Fat".
I think the most interesting (yet for some reason controversial) response was by Los Angeles writer, Greg Karber, who scoured the thrift stores in search of used A&F clothing and then went to "Skid Row" to hand the "privileged" clothing out to the homeless people that live there.
Karber videotaped his project and message and posted it to YouTube.
The video, called "Abercrombie & Fitch gets a brand readjustment #FitchTheHomeless" has received over seven million views in the past week and encourages others to look through their own closets for A&F clothing they "mistakenly" purchased to donate to their local homeless shelter and to post their efforts on Facebook and Twitter.
Surprisingly, Karber has been receiving flack for his video with critics complaining that giving A&F clothing to the homeless in this manner is "mocking" them and can "actually end up furthering oppression rather than combating it".
I disagree. I think Karber's plan not only provides some clothing for the homeless, but also says, in a strong message to A&F, "Who are you to decide what is attractive and cool?"
While there is nothing attractive or cool about being homeless, being homeless doesn't define who the person actually is. It only states what their living status is at the present time.
In some of my interactions with the homeless during the course of my life, I have met some "cool" characters whose inner beauty burst through their soiled and tattered exterior and revealed itself in their bright eyes, toothless smiles and amazing outlook on life.
With the average size of a woman in Amercia being a 14, A&F seems pretty arrogant and foolish to me for having adopted such thinking.
I am particularly shocked that they would also take part in what I consider to be a form of bullying by blatantly excluding young people that they deem unworthy and letting them know quite clearly that they do not fit in.
My daughter prefers the Hollister brand of clothing to Abercrombie & Fitch, but since A&F owns them, I am afraid that they will no longer be an option for her when we shop.
I cannot support a company that attempts to separate people rather than unite them.
I hope that enough people will feel the same way and let Jeffries know how unattractive and un-cool his company's mindset truly is.
As a final note, if there are any aspiring fashion designers out there, please know that the fashion-conscious, plus-sized market is a big one and we are anxiously awaiting someone to dress us and dress us well.