Inordinate Ordnance: The Abercrombie & Fitch Bitch
Tuesday, May 28, 20130 Comments
Recently, Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries made a statement saying his clothing was not made for fat or ugly people. Furthermore, he doesn’t want such people to buy his clothing, and thus, represent his brand.
In the days since, the company has apologized for the statements made, each met with protestors of these, quote-unquote, fat and ugly people Jeffries was talking about. Abercrombie & Fitch have reported loses due to these protests and public outcry.
I once referred to someone, after a rather intense argument, as “fat”. I remember my grade six teacher, in shock, gasp, “Did you just call that boy fat?” My response, in a skittle-addled, pre-pubescent fit of hilarity, responded, “What? It’s not like he didn’t know.”
I was suspended. As I should have been. That was a dickish thing to say. But this story reminds me of what is happening with Jeffries and his company.
Consider practically any other advertising campaign. Every beer, clothing and insurance commercial shows you examples of people who are “better” than you. We can debate the definition of better, but what I mean, is that they adhere to the standardized vision of beauty.
I know, in my heart of hearts, that if I spray my chubby, sweaty body with musky Axe body deodorant, I’ll need to buy a canoe to wade through the river of woman flooding my way. According to Gillette, my tennis prowess will sky rocket if I use their razors. And, if I buy the beer with the moose on it, my patriotism and bearded machismo will have other men offer their chest hair up to me as a manly homage to my manly mcmanlyness.
I’m just saying, advertising has been doing what Jeffries said since the days of the real Don Draper. They are selling you an idea, or rather, a horizon, that when reached, will transform you into the perfect human specimen. They are selling the ideal of human existence, not pants to pry my fat ass into.
“A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. 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.” Said Jeffries on the company’s Facebook page.
It’s ridiculous to think that a company the size of Abercrombie & Fitch would want anything less than their clothes to be on attractive people. Fashion is not the kind of industry known for their sincerity, sensibility or sensitivity. They are selling a vision of what you can become, not the wreck you currently are, in their eyes.
This is insensitive. But marketing and high-business are like that. They want your money, not your thoughts or ethics. If anything, this statement may help the company as they have now set the standard that only attractive people wear their clothes. Now troves of superficial and shallow buyers will flock to the stores because then—and only then—will they be attractive. It’s the institutionalization theory behind consumerism—it’s in this store, so it’s better than what’s in that store. Although they are both made by the tiny dexterous fingers of the children on break from putting together our iPhones.
Protest Abercrombie & Fitch, that’s a great thing to do. But you should have been protesting them back when they were quiet assholes. At least now, this cause has a face to hate, rather than the entire idea of capitalism. But don’t be so ignorant to think this is a new thing and Jeffries has heinous ideas. He’s just vocal about it. I’d rather have a loud idiot than a silent masochist any day.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be upset by his words, or even that it’s a forgone conclusion, I’m just saying don’t be so militant toward someone who simply said aloud what every other company does quietly. It’s the difference between a scalpel and a chainsaw: which one does more damage?