Walk into an Abercrombie and Fitch store in your local mall, and you are likely to be overwhelmed by the smell of musty cologne, experience heart palpitations as the base of club remixes blast overhead and be greeted by an unenthusiastic but undoubtedly physically attractive teen who will strain to communicate an informal, “Hey, what’s up?”
Look around the store and notice the salespeople; thin, dressed head to toe in Abercrombie apparel and little to no ethnic diversity. Images of scantily clad and perfectly tanned models are wallpapered in life-sized proportions across the store, as if to let customers know who should and should not be wearing their clothes.
According to recent statements by the company’s CEO, Mike Jeffries, Abercrombie purposely creates this ambiance in order to attract a certain type of consumer; “the cool kids.” Jeffries defines thinness, popularity and an easy-going and fun-loving personality as “cool” and weeds out those who may be “undesirable” by creating an intimidating and superficial atmosphere that aims to deter whom he deems “uncool kids” from wearing Abercrombie’s brand.
“Candidly, we go after the cool kids,” said Jeffries in an interview with Salon. “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.”
According to Market Watch, Abercrombie and Fitch has repeatedly earned media attention with their unconventional and controversial marketing methods. In only carrying up to a size 10 pant and a size large top, Abercrombie intentionally discriminates against bigger sizes, and in doing so, insinuates that those who wear larger sizes are “uncool.”
Imagine the inappropriate and unfair message that this brand is sending to our youth. In order to fit in, you must be thin, attractive and use your sexuality as a way to get ahead.
Although this interview was conducted by Salon in 2006, it has resurfaced with a vengeance. Consumers are outraged by these marketing techniques and the article has gone viral, gaining popularity through social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
Jeffries interview is being compared to the recent Dove Real Beauty Campaigns and I am happy to present that the number of Dove supporters seem to far outweigh those with similar beliefs to Jeffries’.
Perhaps instead of focusing on this passé article, and returning undeserved media and public attention to it, we should work to promote Dove’s idea of real beauty, and teach our children to be confident with the body that they’ve been given. We should continue to help our children to develop healthy body images, and in placing the emphasis on the PERSON rather than the BODY we will certainly be in a better position to teach our children about what really matters, and to help them to understand why being healthy is important for their BEING rather than their APPEARANCE.
About the author:
Natalie Cohen is a Marketing and Community Relations Associate for Walden Behavioral Care. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Maine in Orono. Her favorite part of working at Walden is being able to act as an advocate for clients suffering with mental illnesses through spreading knowledge and awareness of not only Walden’s programs and services, but eating disorders in general. Ms. Cohen’s passions include writing, social media and being able to converse with medical professionals, clients and her co-workers. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys spending time with her dog Bella, family and boyfriend.