“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told [Salon]. “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.” -Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie + Fitch
When I read the words of Abercrombie CEO Michael Jeffries, who was recently written about in Business Insider, over 20 years of memories flash through my head, years when I was tormented because I was a fat kid. I guess I’m lucky that by middle school I fit into Abercrombie and could therefore be considered “cool” and “attractive”; as if I “belonged.” I think of my life-long struggle to feel beautiful and like I fit in or am worthy because of the size of my waist. Then I think about Columbine, Newtown, The Bully Project. I think about this and this. I think about all the clothes I purchased at A&F, all the times I dragged my mother into their pressure boxes of obnoxious music and even more noxious cologne for a stupid flannel shirt. And then I say: How dare you. Literally, in a tweet last night I wrote:
Did this d-bag EVER listen to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young? Teach your children well, man. Though I’m not a parent, yet, I believe it’s my responsibility as an adult to lead by example. Sure, in middle- and high school I just wanted to be cool. But then this crazy thing happened — I grew out of A&F clothes and I grew up! I learned to have compassion and respect for other people, despite our differences. I started working with families — babysitting kids for extra cash and even editing for a parenting website. I’m also an aunt. In other words, I’m very mama bear about this. So many tragedies big and small occur every day in this world because someone felt like an other. Instead of using their power to celebrate differences, Abercrombie chooses to fuel already vulnerable minds obsessed with fitting in; it’s alright ma, they’re only bleeding.
I understand that every corporation has its own goals and image to protect, but when that image is one of pure exclusion, it’s downright shameful. Clearly corporate responsibility is not in the Abercrombie lexicon, and if anyone is powerful enough to send them a message it’s YOU, the parents who have the money to buy these clothes (because you know, cool kids don’t have after-school jobs — ”Abercrombie & Fitch is the essence of privilege and casual luxury”) and the social networks to effect change. I know this mom is with me! I dare you to go to their careers website and not take action. How about we embrace NOT fitting in together? Here’s the message: I Don’t Fit In. And That’s a Good Thing.
Now it’s YOUR turn. Share your photo with a message to Abercrombie (email: Dara@Babble.com) and we’ll feature it here!