The Real Problem with Abercrombie & Fitch—How Jeffries' Message Hurts Us ALL

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Meme from Facebook

I wasn’t going to blog at all this week. Have been taking a break and refueling. But when I came in from being away for a week, one of the first articles I saw was regarding Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries’ “marketing campaign” for the preppy clothing line (quoted in the meme above).

Jeffries is being hailed by some marketing experts as a brilliant visionary, but I wonder how he would be perceived if he was excluding people of color or sexual orientation. What would people think if he only wanted “white kids” or “straight people” wearing his clothing line?

Don’t get me wrong, A&F has the right to define their demographic, but we as consumers have a right not to buy clothes from such an uncreative designer that has such a warped vision of beauty and a skewed sense that Skinny=Popular & Cool. Even Perez Hilton weighed in on this matter.

A&F’s marketing campaign is as deep as a puddle, so as a former copy writer, I thought that maybe I could offer some assistance:

We at Abercrombie & Fitch are seriously uncreative fashion designers. It takes true talent to make larger people look equally amazing, and we simply lack that skill and prefer to take the easy route. Hey, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to make a Size 00 woman look attractive, but to design clothes that make a size 14 woman look just as hot? Wow. We’d totally have to go back to school for that, and then we wouldn’t have time to spray our cologne all over the mall like a crop-duster.

I know this might seem strange, but I don’t think I am all that offended that they don’t carry larger sizes. A lot of stores don’t. But these other stores are at least smart enough not to use Mean Girls Marketing.

The Real Problem with Abercrombie and Fitch

What is troubling about A&F’s stance is that body size is somehow equivalent with beauty, a great attitude and popularity. If you are over a size 10, then clearly you can’t possess any of these qualities. Conversely, if you are so thin you disappear when you turn sideways, then you must be AWESOME and have it all together.

I think Jeffries’ stance hurts all kids on all ends of the size spectrum.

I was never a cool kid *shock face*. I know!

I was the geek who none of the A&F crowd noticed until they needed help with their Chemistry or Physics homework. High school was very hard for me. I owned three pairs of pants and four shirts and it didn’t take long for the A&F crowd to hone in on this. Many of them made it their life mission to point out I wasn’t like them and that I was not much better than gum on the bottom of their Cole Haan shoes.

In my experience, the people who wore these clothes weren’t popular because they were awesome people; they were popular because they ruled the school like Machiavelli. They were pretty on the outside, but mean to the core. Why?

Hurting people hurt people.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized their behavior stemmed from a profound brokenness. If they didn’t have the trendy clothes, if they were so FAT they had to wear a SIZE SIX, they had no identity. They had to purchase it. The labels promised what they had no power to deliver…meaning. Authentic identity.

While kids like me were having fun making our own bad Kung Fu movies and holding all-night Monty Python marathons with fellow members of the Chess Team, those “cool” kids were puking in the shower, drinking themselves into a stupor, or snorting cocaine so they wouldn’t get too fat for their designer clothes.

Yes, There is the Obvious

I know a lot of us are offended by Jeffries’ attitude toward those of us with a fair share of fluff. That’s easy to be angry about. We know this country is facing an obesity epidemic and we do have to get that under control.

Being too overweight creates all kinds of health problems, but there are plenty of amazing, beautiful, intelligent, kind, wonderful people who can’t fit into A&F clothes.

Yet, I don’t think this is the most insidious part of the A&F message.

Labels Lie and People Die

For years, I was naive (like Jeffries). In high school and college, I wanted so much to be like those “cool” kids. Yet, years later, I was astonished how many of the “popular kids” were dead. Some were homeless because of hopeless drug addiction. Others were in and out of rehab and mental facilities.

So many of the kids I assumed to be the “All-American kid with a great attitude and lots of friends” committed suicide because death was the only way they could see to end their inner suffering so cleverly disguised by distressed denim.

Why did these kids choose to end their own life?

No designer label could give them what they so desperately needed—love, meaning, and genuine connection.

I was guilty. I’d bought into the marketing lie—that these kids with these clothes have everything. Now, being older and wiser, I am deeply saddened. What if I’d had the courage to cross the A&F line and realize that “cool guy” was hurting? Would he still be alive?

His Name was Matt

I cry every time I think of him (crying now as I write this). I had such a crush on him, but I didn’t have the right (clothes) to talk to him. I didn’t have enough money to be his friend, or the right “look” to be his girlfriend.

And Matt committed suicide and I’m angry. I will never be able to tell Matt how awesome I really thought he was. I couldn’t see beyond his clothes to notice his drinking and drug problem. I was blinded by the glare of his designer label, the glare that hid the growing darkness that was consuming him. I took his A&F clothes at face value. They became a barrier I couldn’t cross.

Hey, he’s wearing Abercrombie and Fitch, so everything in HIS world is FABULOUS.

Her Name was Adrian

She was a cheerleader, and I was afraid to talk to her. She died because she drank so much alcohol, she asphyxiated in her sleep. She drank to numb the pain hiding behind her trendy clothes; pain none of us saw.

This Crisis Runs Far Deeper than a Box of Krispy Kremes

I believe we are a country in crisis, not only because we struggle with our weight. We are in crisis because we are too easily drawn into the lie. Thin and beautiful people hurt, struggle and are lonely, too. An $80 t-shirt can’t fill the void. Just go to author and former fashion model August McLaughlin’s blog and she talks about this very issue.

I believe Abercrombie & Fitch has every right to limit their market. They have the right to believe their clothes are only for the pretty people. BUT, they do not have the right to define our humanity.

To all of my Fellow Fluffies…

Y’all are awesome and Jeffries is an @$$clown. You are beautiful and every one of you have something special to offer this world. Ignore idiots. Don’t buy the lie that you aren’t special because you can’t wear their clothes.

BUT, don’t buy the lie that those who sport the A&F line are okay. Some of them are profoundly wounded. The designer label could be their way to hide the hurting and broken person below.

To all of the Beautiful People

Yes, we love looking at pictures of you. Being beautiful and thin on the outside is a gift and one you can be proud of. I hope you will be as saddened by Jeffries’ stance as I am. You are more than your Size 2 jeans.

Many of you are artistic, creative, intelligent, kind and good and that should matter. You are awesome on your own without A&F’s help. For Jeffries to assume his clothes make you YOU should just be insulting.

Dare to Cross the A&F Line

I end with this this letter to Abercrombie & Fitch, which says it all. I know that the good life, the rich life is discovered when we look for beauty everywhere. The world is filled with it, and often it isn’t wearing a pair of overpriced capris. I challenge each and every one of us to be brave enough to cross that A&F line—either defect from it, or reach out in spite of it.

What are your thoughts? Were you as upset and saddened by Jeffries’ message as I was? To the popular crowd, are you insulted that Jeffries assumes his clothes is what makes you worthwhile?

Were you the geek who struggled to fit in? What are your thoughts about this growing narcissism we’re seeing? The rise of body dysmorphia? What do you think is dangerous about this consumer culture? To the parents out there, what does this make you feel in regards to your children?

Or, am I out of line? Am I reading too much into this. Hey, I AM a writer. We over-think almost EVERYTHING :D. Feel free to disagree, I just ask you do it respectfully.

I love hearing from you!

And yes, comments count for my contest, but I am not mentioning my books here because this issue is not to market me, but rather to talk about a growing problem we all need to address.

We are not alone.


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  1. Yes. Every point, yes.

    • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter on May 10, 2013 at 11:58 am
    • Reply

    Well said Kristen!


  2. Well said!

  3. I am in shock! I cannot believe what I read. But wait…. on second thought, I can. This country is really gone to hell in many ways. With the reality shows showcasing dysfunctional people fighting with each other over nonsense and filling their lives with stuff, I just see so much superficiality. What is really important, (all of the things you talk about) is stuffed under the rug, and we are encouraged to buy more crap to make us seem cool. We have gotten to be such a cruel society, putting others down and excluding them. This Michael Jeffries’ statement just makes me sad.

  4. Thanks for your letter.

  5. Reblogged this on Sarah Solmonson and commented:
    Unbelivable…I think if most of us outcast kids could go back to middle school hell understand just how true this post is, our society would be a much happier place!

  6. I never had money to buy name brand labels like this, and even now that I do, I still don’t shop there. Before Jeffries even described his marketing campaign, I thought it was way overrated. I grew up having the Shopko look alike of whatever clothes were cool at the time, but once out of high school, do brands really matter that much? I feel like there are more options now for women to shop and brands only matter to a few. If something looks good on me or makes me happy, I’ll get it, and it probably doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars to achieve that.

    If the purchase makes YOU happy, then get it. I’ve met many a women who love and adore their one Coach bag! And that’s great! I just hope Jeffries isn’t getting kids to spend their money on something they’re hoping will make their “friends” like them, you know? Because then that’s not a true friend anyway.

    Great post, Kristen!

  7. Great post, Kristen, as always. I pulled the few A&F items I have out of my closet and tossed them.

  8. I’ve read a lot of good blogs about this issue this week and I have to say that I love your take on it more than anything because it points out how we can ALL hurt and be trapped by the lies. Thank you. I’ll be sharing your blog with my (awesome and amazing) 14-year-old daughter. (Hugs and cheers!)

  9. The cool kids from school never stay cool. Maybe we should have a post a school pic blogfest lol.

  10. Kristen, this is one of the most articulate, well written, truth-filled pieces I’ve read in months–on this or any other topic. I hope this goes viral and an honest conversation ensues.

    Well said. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Laura. I have to say I cried the whole time I wrote it, especially the part about Matt.

      1. And I cried while I read it. I’ve shared your post to my Twitter, FB, and LinkedIn feeds.

      2. Cliff was his name and he was one of the cool kids. He was also kind to everyone. He killed himself the year after we graduated from high school. Such a loss.

  11. And elegant and profound addition to this “discussion.” Thank you!

  12. AND, how many kids (girls and boys alike) have eating disorders so they can fit into A & F stuff? Bad deal all the way around. Time for everyone to stop defining their beauty by their size or label.

  13. Yeah, I think they just want the hot, gay men shopoing there to be honest (laugh). But seriously, I was the chubby, sweet bou growing up. Mom made a lot of my clothes. I never once stepped into a store like A&F growing up. I can understand that need to fill up holes with things, nice things. It takes a lot of learning not to think that way.
    Beautiful post, Kristen.

  14. What I want to say–I wouldn’t dream of using that kind of language in your space. And I’m sitting here, in my size 2 jeans, telling you that THAT kind of filth quoted above is about a hell of a lot more than size (which, obviously, you already know, but, you know, rage). I don’t know when I’ve been more disgusted.

  15. i am so glad that you did not take a break from blogging!

    first, i loved your advice, highlighted in blue. ” we simply lack that skill and prefer to take the easy route. ” what a great challenge you have given ALL clothing designers! studying it/memorizing it should be part of the criteria for graduating from design school!

    i was lucky not to have grown up where fashion was of big importance. i was more interested in a good barrel-racing saddle and a pretty blanket to go under that! there were a few snobs, but basically everyone was able to be themselves. my sons were in a different era and one was teased if he didn’t have the right shoes, the right clothing. i remember him coming home and bursting out crying, and they also teased him for being short. he later hit a growth spurt and passed most of them, but that need/urge to fit in affects the most sensitive the most.

    what you’ve written is so true, and i am glad that the A&F story prompted you to pull up a compose page and resume your posts! those that touched your life with their deaths are surely proud that you’re speaking up for them now. i too am crying. thank you for being you.

  16. This is spot on and it raises an interesting point that we the geeks can be as exclusionary as the so called in-crowd: proud of our difference, proud that we don’t buy the marketing lie. That makes us no better, really. As adults, we wear our geekness like a label and hide behind it (or maybe that’s just me!), even though, or especially because, being excluded at school HURT.

    This is beautifully written and I agree I hope it goes viral. Doing my bit!

    • Desiree Rager Cook on May 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm
    • Reply

    Finally, someone who’s voiced the “other” side of the issue. A&F hurt not just the people who can’t wear their line, but those who can. Excellent article.

  17. Wonderful but sad post, Kristen. As I look at a picture of Jeffries, I think about what a pitiful person he is and what kind of life the man must have had as a child – his clothing designs aren’t even unique. Many school districts in the US are going to uniforms within the next few years so I wonder how much that will effect A&F’s American sales?

  18. Thank you for bravely writing this response to such a major issue in this nation. We have become a nation that is so focused on labels, sizes, colour that we miss what is truly before us. I so wish we could all just be who we are and be loved for that. There is something beautiful with all of us.

    Thanks so much for writing this and provoking, hopefully a more sophisticated, respectful approach to marketing by not only A&F by all merchants like them.

    Very well said….enjoy your day.

  19. Great post about A&F, Kristen, from a fellow geek. 😉

  20. Well said Kristen. I will say this here and now: I am a size 16. And I’m freakin’ adorable! (Oh by the way — my doctor says I’m also in excellent health.) So I hereby solute Jeffries with my bacon breakfast sandwich. And I will walk past his store to shop at stores whose marketing execs are smart enough to target the vast, wonderfully diverse range of people on this good earth.

    No matter their size or shape, people are more than a number that isn’t even standardized anyway.

  21. You nailed it Kristen. Best I have read on this issue.

    • annerallen on May 10, 2013 at 12:21 pm
    • Reply

    What a true, wonderful, brave post! Jeffries seems to be a sociopath. He treats his own employees like slaves. He’s arbitrary and cruel and egotistical to the point of pathology. He needs to be called on his sadism, prejudice and cruelty.

    I’ve never set foot in one of his stores because I’ve always been “fluffy” too. But it’s moms like the one who wrote that letter who have to speak with their wallets to keep this guy from escalating his war against humanity. And it is all humanity he hates: To him, the only attractive human is something half-dead: starved, addicted and abused. (And probably suicidal, as you illustrated so beautifully.)

  22. Not sure how to respond to this post… I wear scubs mostly. Never thought clothes like these made anyone sexier or smarter or in any way more attractive— and after reading what he said, now I’m certain of that. Snob clothes, no thank you. Want to be more beautiful? Embrace who you are.

  23. A beautiful essay, Kristen, and yet another demonstration of the WANA philosophy that we are all in this together. It it is our uniqueness that completes us and contributes to the whole that is all of us. As you say, excluding no one is the one way.

    I just want to say, once again, how incredibly proud I am to know you. You do so much for so many and in opening your heart, the rest of us remember to open ours. Let the tears flow, my friend, for today you have reminded us why life is so precious.


  24. Thank you for a very poignant piece. I remember when I had to choose the high school I would go to (I could do that in those days in Los Angeles). It was either the high-end, beautiful, preppy high school or the downtown, mixed race and low socioeconomic levels one. I chose the latter to avoid the clique pressure you have mentioned in your piece, but also because the mix of different people adds to one’s life. Sameness is boring and inbred. Variety brings energy into our lives. I will be forever grateful for all I was exposed to and learned because of that choice. People will always cling to their like-group, it seems to be in our nature, But the meanness you have pointed out is what is really appalling. I hope your post makes a difference, even if in only one life.

  25. This needed to be said. Thank you, Kristen.

    I wonderful how many of the “cool” people have become successful and how many of the non-cool, geeky people have changed the world for the better?

    I’ve been overweight most of my life. I’ve always felt like I was less a person because of it. However, I had a good job with lots of responsibilities and married a wonderful, handsome, intelligent man. I also have a beautiful, intelligent daughter. I never had anything given to me because of my looks and I made my own way in the world.

    I think I’m the better for it.

  26. Very well put, Kristen. Thank you for this.

  27. perfectly said. Thank you. I don’t think A&F even has a store in New Orleans anymore. No where near enough preppies here. Yippie.

  28. According to my teens, Abercrombie isn’t cool anymore. It’s gone out of style. So I’m wondering if this sudden appearance and wacked out message from Jeffries isn’t some kind of lame attempt at drumming up business. Plus, I’m thinking he wasn’t one of the cool kids so he’s overcompensating in the most major way known to man.

    As far as your thoughts on the cool kids. So awesomely put. I learned early that I could get what I wanted by using my sexuality. And I didn’t learn it in a good way. I started getting cat calls and vulgar comments from men when I was twelve. TWELVE. I didn’t even understand half the crap they were saying to me or what all their hand gestures meant. Girls that young don’t know what to do with that. But it sure as heck feels like power and when you are getting unwanted attention at every turn, what you really want more than anything is to have some kind of power. I also got other unwanted attention from family members. Which isn’t as rare as you’d think. Other girls could be mean as snakes. That’s what I brought to high school. I was never mean to other kids, but I sure as heck had an investment in being popular. That was what I understood. That was the only way I felt in control of my situation. So often people misread guarded as stuck-up.

    Guaranteed, the popular kids have problems. Any kind of person who has their worth tied up in other people and how they look on the outside is messed up, not shallow. No one wants to be messed up. But teens don’t know how to address their problems if they aren’t getting guidance.

    High school is a tough place. I wish there was more outreach and help for teens. Whatever their size and shape.

    • Marta on May 10, 2013 at 12:40 pm
    • Reply

    I absolutely love the assistance you provide A&F. 🙂 I hope they read this and at least take a moment to reflect.

    • Marianne Wheelaghan on May 10, 2013 at 12:40 pm
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    Gosh! I’m so glad you decided to write your blog today and share this with us. I am right behind, well, next to you actually. I am appalled and disgusted and repelled by Mr Jeffries comments. I will be telling everyone I know about them and I know they will react, like me, with dismay and shock. Of course clothes do not make the person and I feel very sorry for people who are so convinced by his drivel that they shell out a packet just so they can “temporarily” feel good. What an addiction, which A&F both help to perpetuate and feed off. That is not to say I don’t like to wear nice clothes – who doesn’t – but not at any price and certainly not at the A&F price. I’m just going to have to stay an uncool, yet normal and very happy, bit of a tubby 🙂

    1. I actually liked the clothes, just am too cheap to buy them. But when I saw this attitude tethered to the line? It’s unconscionable.

  29. In high school I was almost 5′ 8″ and weighed between 85 and 95 pounds. I wasn’t trying to be rail thin… I just was. I wan’t popular, I was troubled and thought I was worthless. Now I’m on the oposite spectrum weight wise, I’m a lot older and I’m happy and healthy–both mentally and physically. I might have doubled my weight, and sure, I’d love to lose some of it, but I’d never go back to that kid I was in high school. I do, however, wish I knew then what I know now.

    My daughters refuse to shop at Abercrombie & Fitch, (though they love H&M). They call Abercrombie and a few of the other in stores b*tch stores and refuse to be associated with the kids who shop there… And this is nothing new, they’ve been saying it for the last three years at least.

    One of them can wear the clothes but has no interest in looking like everyone else. One probably can’t but then she has her own sense of style. They’re both amazing teenagers and some of the most loving and giving people I know.

  30. Well said Kristen. Thank you for being a voice to both crowds! Everybody has their weaknesses, struggles, and hurts, and too many people hide behind clothing, make-up, parties, etc. We put so much stock in outward appearance that many people unknowingly give up potentially great, life saving friendships. I hope your post makes a difference to someone struggling with just that. I know it has already reminded me to take care in what I teach my daughter to perceive as “beautiful”

  31. I posted a link to this on my blog. Proud to do it.

  32. If Jeffries adopted a hundred puppies, opened his house to become an orphanage for crack babies, donated every last cent he had to charity, helped regrow Lance armstrong’s lost testicle, donated all his exterior flesh to a burn victim, and personally mated with the last endangered female tuatara to prevent extinction of the species, I STILL woul’d buy AC clothes.

    Why? Call me crazy, but I won’t pay $80 for a T-Shirt.

    1. Haha!! I, too, buy almost all my clothes at the thrift store and get compliments on them all the time. I have better things to do with our money that spent it on clothes that cost ridiculous amounts of money.

      As for A&F, I won’t buy their clothes even at the thrift store. Before this latest issue even came up, I heard about their catalogs, which completely objectify females and males and decided even if I could get their items free, I wouldn’t take them.


  33. Thank you for pointing out an angle on this issue I hadn’t thought of. I think Jeffries is a (unprintable) but I’m glad I found out what Abercrummy & Fitch is now targeted to because I was confused. I remember when A & F was sportswear, as in clothes for actual sports. I went into one a couple of years ago looking for things to go boating in, because it was handily right in the mall while L.L. Bean doesn’t have a local store and I’d have to order from the catalog, and I thought they were equivalent brands. The store was so dark I couldn’t see the clothes, and the music was so loud I couldn’t ask the salesgirl for help. I ended up buying something at Bass Pro Shops. Anyway, now I know that A & F isn’t really A & F anymore. I turned my back for a couple of decades and it mutated into something else.

  34. I’m posting this link on my blog as well. What a great response to the actual problem. I avoided a lot of the “cool” kids in high school because they were jerks with snotty attitudes. Not all, but most. Parents share in the blame by supporting the theory that their kids are deserving of bronzed poop when they are teens, and the clothing and toys that go with that attitude.

    • Wing Dunham on May 10, 2013 at 12:50 pm
    • Reply

    When I read Jefferies’ message I immediately assumed it was written by Andy Borowitz.
    So sad that the guy came right out and said “I am an exclusionary, mouth-breathing knuckle-dragging ignorant snob.”

  35. It reeks of desperation, a terribly misguided message, gimmick and trend, and horrid $2 cologne — just like the scent of their store. Makes me gag every time I walk by. Well said. He’s ridiculous and shameless.

  36. Great post, Kristen. I definitely think A&F is aimed at impressionable teenagers who don’t yet know who they are and, as you said, fall into the lies that happiness comes from beauty or money or popularity. Media certainly doesn’t help–the magazines with airbrushed, photo-shopped women and actors who the public watch and idolize. And when they realize there’s no truth there, it’s often too late. Very, very sad.

  37. Is it a horrible attitude and the kind that, if you believe in such, lands you in hell? sure.

    But since he’s being hailed as an genius in some circles, let’s defeat that. This is bad business. As I’ve written about Chick-Fil-A, who in their business practices and in their CEO’s attitudes, discriminates against gay people, black people, divorced people, and non-Christian people, excluding any group that can provide you income is stupid.

    Non pretty folks spend cash too. Bill Gates isn’t model perfect looking, but do you think his cash is less than some hottie’s?

    Levi’s just signed a 200 million dollar stadium naming rights deal with the SF 49ers football team, Think about what Levi’s is? They were invented by two immigrants, one a German Jew, and the company was founded on the backs and the attitudes of cowboys, goldminers, and househelp in the late 1800s. They are the anti-Abercrombie & Fitch of the clothing world. Levi’s markets to the everyman, and they’re a billion dollar company.

    Jeffries isn’t just a judgemental, hateful dooshbag, he’s a poor businessman.

    • Melinda Primrose on May 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen,
    My daughter has a weight problem. She can’t keep it on. I am the exact opposite. I have done my best to teach her that it’s what’s inside the packaging that matters. As a younger child, she was teased for being so small. Now she’s being envied for being so small. Luckily for us, our lesson that clothes don’t make a person seems to have sunk in with her. She is perfectly comfortable in her Wal-Mart jeans and a tee. It makes me so mad that advertising campains try to undo what we as parents have worked hard to instill in our daughter!

  38. Beautifully said, and right on target. I was never popular, either (shocker!). The difference was, I never cared. Not the angry “I don’t care!” that really means I DO care, but honestly, I couldn’t have cared less. I’m not sure how I came by this emotional armor. Perhaps because I went to Catholic schools where uniforms mitigated the “fashion statements.” Perhaps because fashion itself has always bored me to tears–give me jeans and sweatshirt any day. Perhaps because as an extreme introvert the thought of being “popular” made me sick to my stomach. I’m sure that somehow, it was my parents who found a way to innoculate me to the identity-twisting media messages and mean girl pressure. I have always known that what matters is the person’s inside, not exterior, and since I liked my “inside” I didn’t care to change my outside to fit the latest trend. I hope I figure out how my folks did it so I can give my daughter the tools she needs to ignore the messages sent by A&F and their ilk.

    One quick story: I went to high school with a lot of girls far wealthier than I. There was one girl, rich, beautiful, smart, but seemed not to have many friends. People thought she was stuck up. One day, for whatever reason, we were talking, and I realized that she wasn’t stuck up at all–she was scared. Insecure. As you said, hurting on the inside while looking OK on the outside. And it made me look at all the “In Crowd” girls in my school differently, because I wondered what wounds they were hiding. Bottom line: Never judge, because you never know what’s going on inside someone’s soul.

    1. Often the girls we think are cold or bitches are really just insanely shy. I learned that with my sister-in-law (who looks like a model). People would judge her as stuck up when she was actually shy to the point of practically needing medication, LOL.

  39. Kristen,

    I think you are on point with everything you said. I actually worked at Hollister—also owned by A&F–for 6th months my senior year of high school. Luckily, I had outgrown my Hollister-wearing phase by then; it was just an easy way to make some extra cash. I wasn’t allowed to shop at Abercrombie Kids or A&F because of their overtly sexual advertising (maybe my parents didn’t realize Hollister was owned by the same conglomerate…oops!)

    But the interesting thing is we were hired not as “sales associates,” but as models. I found this highly amusing as I stand 5’1″ and while I’m petite for my size, I haven’t been a 00 since…ever. I am Caucasian and blonde but I was actually one of the only Caucasian employees. I digress—the title of “model” allows Hollister—and I assume A&F–to hire based on looks. Changing the name of our positions didn’t change what we did, but it allowed the company a LOT of control over what we looked like/wore. I wish I had my “employee manual”—at least 30 pages in a bound book—to point out specific ridiculous requirements.

    1. I actually worked (briefly) for A&F in college. Guess they have changed because I hardly think I look like a model…but I can seriously fold a T-Shirt O_o.

      1. Trust me—that’s the only time I will ever be able to use that descriptor for myself! And yes! They do teach excellent t-shirt folding. I think I finally regained my sense of smell, too 😉

  40. You go Kristin! Love your insight and care for us common, ordinary people. It is somewhere up around 90% of us that make up the “outcrowd”. I was an outcast in high school and considered one of the “farmer” class, who lived on dirt roads and could not participate after school because of chores. Although I might have been able back then to fit in designer clothes, that was not happening. There is far too much cruel emphasis on outward appearance, especially for the young people among us who are still searching for their identity. I second your emotion.

    Rick Dempsey, PHd

  41. I was fortunate in high school– I had a senior class of more than 2,000, so I had the ability to run with the crowd I wanted to, and never actually had to interact with anyone I didn’t want to outside of classes. It came as a bit of a shock to me, after I graduated, that the stuff people had talked about on TV were actual, real problems.

    As a fluff ball myself, I’ve always hated going into the trendy stores. I couldn’t even fit bracelets that could squeeze past my farmers’ hands, and they always felt cold and unwelcoming (and A&F has always been one of the worst, with that horrible reek that surrounds their store).

    But then, I was the kind of person who was raised to believe that anyone trying to sell you a T-shirt for more than $20 is trying to swindle you.

  42. Sad but true that capitalistic companies will always do their level best to market to those who perceive themselves as “less than” unless they have the latest doo-dad. And we are bombarded with this message from day one. It’s sad that so many of us look for “the answer” out there, as if someone else has it and we don’t, rather than looking within. Our culture could do with a serious overhaul, but where the heck do you start?

  43. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Good post! And Happy Friday. 🙂

  44. Yep, totally disgusted by Jeffries. If I had any AF clothes I’d send them back too. Here’s another letter to him that I think says what we all feel. The whole time I read your post, I thought of Marilyn Monroe. I also thought of that show “Hoarders.” Especially “Hoarders.” It addresses the same issues. Some of us have pain that we desperately try to hide from the world. Covering it with a label or more “things” will not fix it and will make it worse and life threatening.

  45. Kristen,this post was spot-on regarding what is wrong with our society. Very well said.

  46. Kristin. Absolutely! I was sad to read about your classmates that suffocated in the confines of their perfect pigeon holes. My high school could only scrape together 60 graduates by combing three tiny Iowa towns, so we were able to avoid the mean kid syndrome. In spite of that I found myself trying to lengthen the legs on my stubby 5’2″ (almost, if I stretch my neck real hard) body by maintaining a very unhealthy weight of 89 pounds. Where did I get that crazy idea? Magazines, TV ads, movies . . . and it goes on and on. Fortunately my freshman 15 at college derailed the eating disorder before it took complete control of my life/health. My voluptuous 5’2″ (almost) daughter showed me a Tumblr post the other day with a side by side of Michael Jeffries and his doppelganger, the white orc from “The Hobbit”. Mr. Jeffries can’t help it that he’s not very attractive on the outside – but he totally owns that inner orc. Keep up the good work!

  47. Reblogged this on Melissa Janda – the Buzz on Writing and commented:
    Another insightful post by Kristen Lamb. Definitely worth the read.

  48. Reblogged this on itsdaryen.

  49. Beautifully written, Kristin. And it does actually take more talent to create clothes for people who aren’t sticks. It sounds like Jeffries has his own problems and needs accolades from a very small subset of the population in order to feel good about himself and his company…poor little rich man. One day he’ll find out just how little all that meant in the grand scheme of things.

  50. I have read many posts on A&F. This Jeffries guy though has me wondering. I know it’s not nice, but really is he trying to surround himself with beautiful people because he is so ugly? I mean really, he is not a good looking man at all. I’m afraid that ugliness is much deeper then skin deep. It’s truly sad. I feel sorry for the man. Am I angry? Yes. No one at his age especially should act like they are in high school again. But that too just makes me really sad for him. He is stunted in his growth.

  51. Well stated. Thank you for posting this.

  52. I’ve always fit into the small sizes, but that didn’t make me happy or get me friends. I had a miserable teen age–not good at sports, shy, and ostracized for having good grades and being the new girl in the community. I have A&F clothes now and love the look of them, but I guess by Jeffries standards I don’t belong in them–I’ve never been the cool girl with lots of friends. I am, however, the kind, smart, genuine girl who would do anything to help a true friend, and who hates to see people bullied or in pain. I’m also the girl who is disgusted with Jeffries and his empty elitist soul. Lets hope he never gets in accident and loses his good looks, because then I guess he won’t be worth anything anymore, and won’t be allowed to wear his own clothes.

    1. Right? It’s sad. I actually feel sorry for the guy. There is SO much beauty in the world that he is missing out on because of his myopic views.

  53. “We at Abercrombie & Fitch are seriously uncreative fashion designers. It takes true talent to make larger people look equally amazing, and we simply lack that skill and prefer to take the easy route. Hey, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to make a Size 00 woman look attractive, but to design clothes that make a size 14 woman look just as hot? Wow. We’d totally have to go back to school for that, and then we wouldn’t have time to spray our cologne all over the mall like a crop-duster.”

    Absolutely loved that, Kristen. I couldn’t believe the wordage in the marketing campaign. What gall. Is there no line that some people will not cross just to sell product? Does Michael even care about the millions of average people he is insulting?

    1. That was one of my fave parts too. How I love mocking their idiocy, LOL.

  54. Thank you for putting it into words so well — hope it’s okay that I just linked your blog entry to my own blog. I suspect many of us who might not shop there on our own because we know they don’t have anything that appeals to us, could still be tempted to think it’s a treat to buy something as a gift for the grandkids. NO MORE!

    1. Use ANYTHING of mine you need. All about the WANA love :D. Thank you and I’m honored.

    • LD on May 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm
    • Reply

    You know, the word “cool” doesn’t apply to kids now. (I don’t know what it is, not having kids/teens myself). Jeffries & his marketing team are stuck back in the 80’s, but they are not even speaking the same language. However, the message and visual ads are TOXIC. I hope kids think using words like “cool” and “not-so-cool” are lame. (Or whatever “lame” is in today-speak.) Thank you so much for digging deep & writing the truth…

  55. Reblogged this on …..And The Moon Sees All and commented:
    Had to re-blog this and share with everyone because this is exactly how I feel, and I’m offended by this attitude from ANY brand. There’s a fine line between defining your demographic and publicly shaming everyone over a certain size. That’s disgusting and deplorable. It also probably explains why I never see anyone going into A&F EVER!

  56. This is really insightful and smart. And it strikes at an issue I think few people notice. Whenever folks do talk about teen suicide, they always seem to assume it’s the bullied kids doing it — which does happen, to be sure. But they never seem to notice that the bullies do it too. A&F is preying on people who are already so fragile from insecurity.

  57. Hi, Kristen. I’m overweight and I’m not happy about it. I buy my clothes at shops that cater to those in my size range. I’m not suicidal. Michael Jefferies is an asshat elitist. I’ve seen the cool kids thirty years down the road. They have problems their high school nursery didn’t prepare them for. The outsiders, us fatties, took a lot of BS from the cool kids. We survived. A lot have changed. They’ve become cool-looking.The thing is they remember what it was like and have become human beings. Boycott A&F, it won’t hurt them much but a few flyers at the mall might wake up some other shoppers. I don’t advocate illegal activities but flash mobs of plus siizers descending on an A&F asking to look at jeans seems nice. Toodles, Tom. Have an interesting day.

    1. I am digging the flash-mob idea, LOL.

      1. Hey, a trip to the mall is good for everyone. Exercise, a sense of community and a kick in the shins of the image makers.

  58. I had never thought about it like this. Well, maybe I had thought that “the cool crowd” was hurting, but never really this way. Thanks for writing this!

  59. Jeffries just disqualified himself as a customer with his ugly attitude.

  60. Yes. This. All of it. I am a fluffy girl who was bullied because I was poor. And yet, I was a violinist, a pianist, a singer, a composer and a writer. At age 16 I wrote a 3-act musical. And yet, because I was poor and didn’t have designer jeans, food was thrown at me and I was called horrible names. Boys stood in the halls rating girls with cards from 1-10. I got oinks and moos at the heavy weight of 145. (I was 5’8″–I’ve shrunk as a granny.) I’m almost 52 years old and that still hurts to think about it. It had a huge affect on my psyche. Thanks for sharing the video. It really made me think. I am not what other people say I am. I am what God says I am. I am valuable. I am loved. And I think I’m not bad looking, either. 🙂

  61. Your way with words always entertains me, and this post was no exception! I loved the way you expressed that they’re taking the easy way out because they totally are. I’m not even a size 12 – I’m bigger than that. Yeah, I want to lose weight, but not for anyone except myself. I just want to be healthy. Having two kids has wreaked havoc on my body, and it’s time for me to take care of myself, too.

    I refuse to even step into any of those stores. When I was in high school, I was so proud to have the group of friends I had then and still do to this day. We were band nerds and flaunted it, lol. We preferred shopping at Goodwill and Salvation Army for our clothing. We listened to 90s alternative (grunge for example), wore shirts from our fave bands like Green Day, Nirvana, Sublime, and basically were like f*ck the preppy “popular” kids. We had our own style, and I honestly think at times the preps gave us a hard time because they were jealous of how tight knit we were. We were really, truly friends – not just random people to party with.

    I don’t think they had those kind of friendships, and a lot of them seemed insecure anyway. I mean, if you have to go to so much trouble to buy expensive clothes and not eat to stay stick then, you’ve got issues that need to be addressed. I know a lot of those kids were drinking themselves sick and doing any kind of drug that ensured they stayed skinny, not to mention starving themselves and sleeping with multiple people at different parties.

    I’m not saying my friends and I were better – I’m just saying we didn’t feel the need to do all of these things. Those kids were superficial. These kids aren’t going to have their looks forever. They need some substance to their personalities. At this point, many of them lack those. My friends and I had our own style, our own way of feeling good about ourselves through music and just hanging out together. I mean, my God, we went to see Romeo + Juliet (Claire & Leo) in the movie theater 12 or 13 times! That was our favorite ritual – watching our favorite movies over and over, dancing to music turned up way too loud, begging our parents to drive us to various concerts, hanging at the mall, having sleepovers where the pizza delivery guy tries to drive away without giving us our change back (yep, that really did happen)…I loved those days. There were hard ass times, but there were good ones, too. I’m scared for kids these days. I really am.

    1. They miss out on so much. Like, have you ever made your own BAD Kung Fu movie? Fun times, Man. Fun times. I was like you (and still am). I had piercings and tattoos before they were cool. I went out of my way to look different. I shopped in thrift stores and invented my own style (namely out of poverty). But it was funny to see all the things I was teased about that later became the NEW HOT TREND.

  62. Outstanding, Kristin. Your message hits all points of connection, self-affirmation and truth of the valuable, purposeful things life is about. I work my butt off to be a size four and the reasons that made me a plus size didn’t change when the weight was gone. I couldn’t feel beautiful, confident and happy in a size 4 if I didn’t believe I was at a size 24. The means can’t be separated from the end, they must be present all along. Lasting change can’t occur with shame, deprivation or worthlessness. The purpose of healing, being healthier, isn’t to be happy. The purpose of healing is to be awake, present, whole and broken at the same time. The vulnerability in your message was beautiful. Kudos.

  63. Well said Kristen Lamb. This type of marketing is harmful to our youth and Ambercrombie and Fitch should know better.

  64. Wow! I was never a popular kid and was never a geek. I just sort of stumbled along in the middle. Funny I was thinking about this very thing this weekend while I attended RT. Felt like the popular kids were still making it big and the ones who have dragged ourselves through life and managed to get where we are, are still working twice as hard. I’ve always known I was different and have just come to accept that’s who I am, love me or hate me, the choice is yours. Feel that way about my writing. I’m always working twice as hard with the hope that someday I’ll be accepted by the popular kids. As for Michael Jeffries, I wonder if he was a bully in school? It doesn’t matter because frankly with his attitude now known, I will never step into his store again and hope that somewhere in life he learns the value of everyone. We each have to find our own way and I’m still stumbling along in the middle hoping someday I will break out of the pack or be accepted by the pack.

  65. Thank you for this passionate post, Kristen. You are an inspiration, and your heart shows in everything you write. Thanks for giving a damn about people, all people, and thanks for calling out those who don’t.

    1. There is beauty all around us and in all different forms. This just demonstrates A&F’s lack of vision.

  66. Very well said. No, it is brilliant. I had a unique high school experience because I was transplanted from a small town in Southwest Colorado to the deep South; Mobile, AL. I am generally low-key and pensive, but when I arrived, I was treated like a strange toy from another planet. I was a “band geek”, and my clothes reflected the granola bar that I am. These things did not matter to the cool kids. They wanted to be my friend because I showed up with an identity, which is something sorely lacking in the popular circles. I went through most of high school in a state of culture shock despite the attention. I have a daughter in high school now, and even though they wear uniforms, there is still pressure to fit in because of name brands. A & F makes khaki pants and polo shirts specifically for uniforms, and my girl will now have to find another place to shop. I am shocked at the irresponsible message they are conveying to our society. This is going back on fb, and every other outlet I use. Thank you for sharing this. I am giving him the title of “Corporate Suicide Bomber”.

  67. Reblogged this on johnny ojanpera and commented:

    • katiekinsman22 on May 10, 2013 at 4:21 pm
    • Reply

    Where is the ‘LOVE THIS’ button?!?! ‘Like’ doesn’t begin to describe how much I agree with this post!!!! Thank you for writing it! I’m going to reblog it!!!!!

  68. I’m currently doing research for a teen book about living with obesity, and it’s made me hyperaware of how widespread weight stigma is in our culture. And how susceptible we all are to internalizing these damaging messages about our own worth. It’s just as important not to judge ourselves by these superficial standards as it is not to judge others.

  69. Hear hear. That is all.

    • dinavidscuitee on May 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm
    • Reply

    I agree. This is absolutely terrible.

  70. One of the things I like is the Muslim concept of “hijab.” The word means “private” in Arabic. When a woman is dressed in hijab it simply means that your hair is covered and your clothing is modest. By that I mean not low cut or tight, with long sleeves. I dress in hijab while still wearing jeans.

    The primary purpose of hijab is to separate things that are private from things that are public. It gives an individual the option as to how much she’d like to reveal.

    The great thing about hijab is that is reduces – or eliminates – judging a person by the clothes they wear or whether they’ve got the latest hairstyle or not. Individuals are evaluated simply by their personality and the content of their character.

    That would sure as heck put a crimp in A&E’s style – or lack thereof.

  71. I have had the privilege (?) of being on both sides of that line. I was the smart geek girl who ran with the spelunking club and no one really talked to unless there was an exam. And I was a model, and a spokesperson for a large Oil/Tire/gas company as their “Miss — Image”. Neither side is easy. Neither is perfect.
    I had/have amazing friends who were those ‘cool’ perfect people A&F seems to only want in their clothing. Most of them weren’t into designer clothes. They didn’t need them to define who they were. And yes, I modeled great clothes, but at home…sans makeup and fancy labels…I wore ragged blue jeans and cut off shorts and flip flops.
    I had/have great beautiful friends who are everything A&F shuns. They are too intelligent to be ‘cool’. Too creative to care for the rules. They are also beautiful…inside and out.
    It is a sad commentary that something this shallow even receives attention.

    We are so much more than what we wear.

  72. What a jerk. Fact is that some women can seriously rock a size 12 or bigger. What about Queen Latifa, for example? And remember Susan Anton? Size 18. There is a kind of ugly inside some people that no perfectly-semetrical exterior can hide. This guy has it in spades, and he is common in the most derogatory sense of the word. He is beneath my caring one way or the other what he says.

  73. I never liked a place that had half-naked people posing seductively for their clothing ads aimed at teens. (What??!!!) Now I have even more reason to never enter an A&F store.

    But sometimes I just wish I could hug all of the insecure teens and explain what really matters.

  74. I can’t think of anything more effective for this ij’it to have done to sink his company!

  75. Melissa you are so wise and absolutely correct with your comments! No one talked to me in school because I couldn’ t run and play the way they could. But my mom said they were never taught how to treat people with respect so I felt sad for them because they didn’t know how to judge a person by his/her actions. It’s always a person’s inner beauty that matters. it’s the part that molds you. It’s doesn’t change.

    • Poodlepal on May 10, 2013 at 5:59 pm
    • Reply

    He’s an idiot, but I wouldn’t take him all that seriously or get upset by him. For one thing, his marketing campaign is odd. It features a hot male torso–no head, no identifiable clothing on the torso that one might wish to buy. Who would be moved by an ad like that? Probably gay guys, who are usually not “cool” in high school. Second of all, there are no models wearing the women’s clothing. You can’t even tell how long the dresses are. The clothes themselves are unimpressive and not particularly sexy. Really, there is no reason why a larger size woman couldn’t wear them if she wanted to. You don’t need a good figure for many of these plaid shirts and t-shirts. Yes, I know many are reading some message about fat acceptance and snobbery into these remarks, but I wouldn’t. It’s just a CEO trying to brand an overpriced product that’s not particularly original or interesting.

    I’m curious as to how old Kristen is. I remember Abercrombie and Fitch being a sort of “Nancy Reagan at the Country Club” type of store when I was in high school. It didn’t become a trendy place for the younger crowd until years later. I thought we were about the same age, but I must be way old!

  76. This is such an important issue!!

    Like you and many other commenters, I was the “smart, fat kid.” Popularity was not an option — except around exam time. Fortunately, I was never bullied, but it was made clear that I was beneath (far, far beneath) the “popular” kids.

    I also have a life-long case of “frugal” brought on by the behavior of my Depression-baby parents. My mother sewed my clothes, except for jeans which we bought from Sears before there was a WalMart in our area.

    I have personally never set foot in an A&F store. I don’t care for the A&F look, and even if I did, I’m too cheap to fork over those prices for mere clothes. (I’ve also never set foot in a Talbot’s or Chico’s but I drool and twitch with envy every time I see one of their ads. They’re still too rich for my blood.)

    Yes, it is true that A&F has the right to market as it chooses. It is also true that those of us who prefer not to spend outrageously on clothes that send a vicious and dangerous message to young people have every right to NOT shop there. I’m sticking with Burlington Coat Factory. (Boring, but a good value.)

  77. Kristen, one of the best pieces I’ve read. I, too, choked up when reading about Matt. Every point you made in here is spot on. I’ve never cared about name brands and I always thought it was sad when kids thought they had to have the name brand shoes and clothes to fit in. (Pun not intended.) The letter that mother wrote to A&F is awesome. Yay for her sending those clothes back to A&F.

    • Marilyn Quigley on May 10, 2013 at 6:24 pm
    • Reply

    If he happenes ever to have an overweight or homely or nerdy or challenged child or grandchild, he’ll wish he had never let those words come out of his mouth. My heart aches for all the children in this country who buy into his demented philosophy that only the cool, thin, beautiful people count. Those kids suffer excruciatingly and aren’t aware how empty some of the “cool” kids are. Jeffries has bartered his soul to the devil’s philosophy just to make money. Thanks for your analysis, Kristen. May its ripples flow out to help the people so damaged from this A&F philosophy that permeates too much of our society.

  78. I tend to ignore ignorant people and do my thing as a teacher to make sure every child I meet knows that they are valued and accepted. That man has issues, and there are many more like him. Who knows, he maybe suffering deep inside and like all bullies, being cruel helps him feel empowered.

  79. Bravo! Could not have said it better! All I came up with “what a blank blank blank and blankey blank.” Not very articulate I know. So I really enjoyed your response.

    • Shauna Schain on May 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm
    • Reply

    As stated above, I feel very charmed by my childhood, precisely because I never felt this kind of pressure in school to “conform.” I had more respect for those that did not. I was class president and a cheerleader, but we weren’t considered all that popular–maybe because I was raised in a college town where diversity was the norm, and all of my friends were so different. It bred a mutual respect. I only remember my mother commenting to me once about one of my larger friends, to maybe not encourage her to eat so much ice cream! I thought my mother was wrong. Jeffries may think he is only catering to the “beautiful people,” but that depends on ones definition of beauty. I agree that his marketing strategy is as shallow as a puddle, and as shallow as the people who actually think they create attractive clothing! Even though I could still fit into A&F clothes, that is the last thing I would be caught dead wearing, let alone subjecting myself to their entirely obnoxious stores. I take a wide girth around their stores because I don’t want to smell like cheap perfume, and I value my eardrums. Jeffries might think he is cool and catering to beautiful people, but I hope that delusion is only in his mind. People sporting A&F logos just look to me like they are trying too hard. And that is not cool.

  80. Jeffries was either a bully in high school or someone who didn’t fit in and now wants to lord it over everyone. His attitude lacks humanity. He is a jerk, and I hope he receives plenty of flack for his comment. Being a parent of young children now must be even more difficult than when my children were young. More temptation, more pressure. There were pressures when I was growing up, but I think my life was more like Mayberry than Fringe. My kids were targeted because they didn’t wear the “in” labels. The next year, when they had the popular labels simply because they liked them, they refused to be friends with the people who had shunned them the previous year. My eldest said “I’m the same person, no matter what brand jeans and shoes I wear.” Jeffries message hurts all the kids who aren’t tiny, who can’t afford the “in” brands. But it’s like Bill Gates said in a graduation speech, “Look around. See all the geeks here? They’re the people you popular kids will be working for in a few years.” He should know.

    • Rachel Thompson on May 10, 2013 at 7:22 pm
    • Reply

    Sounds like you were caught in a shallow whirl pool. Dichotomy is a useful word but real life isn’t really one.
    Buying into that cool-kid vs. nerd-outsider is one hell of a self setting trap. Balance and maturity isn’t common in HS but that’s the answer. I wish I could tell kids and adults that the world isn’t an either/or place, but they wouldn’t believe it. I didn’t buy it then (or now) so everyone but me thought I was brainy. I was a poor kid, not pretty, and go along with everyone. If you don’t accept it, and don’t play the game, you are outside the pecking order looking at it incredulously.
    Not all the in-kids fail or are really shallow and otherwise mentally messed up and not all the nerds give a crap about the in-kids or get nerd revenge or care to. People in-between extreme dichotomies do best and many on both ends eventually meet in the middle where real life is.
    Yeah the world is messed up; normalcy bias based on dichotomies not real contributes heavily.

  81. !00 comments!!! People are with you, I’m with you, and, YES, Jeffries IS an @$$ clown, wearing an @$$ hat!!
    I think he should be ashamed of himself!
    I love that you posted this, Kristen.
    Thank you!
    Have a great evening 🙂

  82. I was angry, yes, but thank God I had a chance to discover who I am apart from a label, on my clothing or otherwise. And thanks to social media, I now learn that the kids I admired in high school had the same issues I did. Your comments about brokenness and hurting people hurting people … right on. Not out of line at all. Thank you for sharing so honestly.

  83. I agree A&F’s statement is reprehensible, but at the same time, Jeffries is more honest than other retailers. They all want the “pretty people” who are defined as less than a size 10. I was in Brooks Brothers last year. The clerk said they had “large” sizes – yeah, a 10. I was never a 10, and am now a fit 16. Nordstrom’s makes the cut between “normal” and large sizes at 16 — and has the departments on a different floor. I’m sure the examples go on forever. What the heck is wrong with our culture? Wait, there’s not enough space to answer that.

  84. I wasn’t with the “in” crowd in high school and my mom made a lot of my clothes but one thing I learned that stood me in good stead was being comfortable while on my own. That lesson was worth every minute of anything I went through. As for sizes, even the ones we have now have been downsized so that women now wear smaller clothes (in numbers) than they used to. Way too much emphasis on size!


  85. The Jeffries comment is so astounding, I had to read it 3 times to take it in. CEO or not, it seems like someone from his crack team of image/brand consultants should have been able to tackle him to the ground and slap some duct tape over his mouth before he managed to spit out something quite so absurd. Having worked in the agency world, I can appreciate your suggestion for a modified campaign message as well. Beautifully written post and a message that is obviously gaining appreciation and strength. I like to think that the American public is growing wise to this type of bias and that soon the pendulum may swing in the opposite direction, toward companies like Dove with their real beauty campaign, leaving the A&Fs of the world in the dust. Kudos.

    1. RIGHT? They should have in his contract that he is banned from SPEAKING.

  86. Well said.

    I for one never shopped at a&f. I never wore trendy clothes. And I never concerned myself over fashion. And that marketing campaign of theirs needs to totally fail.

  87. Wonderful post Kristen. I love how you took the point of view of humanity and not the easy option of ‘fat’ vs ‘thin’ or ‘rich’ vs ‘poor’. Jeffries message is exclusionary and elitist. Neither of which is good for society.

    I hadn’t considered the troubled A&F wearers before your post. I was probably blinkered by my poor upbringing – labels were just things scratching your neck. I was thin and apparently pretty, but was bullied and ostracised for having the wrong clothes and a broken family. I could have worn those clothes, if I could have afforded them. Not so much now.

    You are right though, many of my fellow students haven’t reached their potential in life, despite seeming to ‘have it all’ when I was younger. I am glad that I have had no association with this label and I hope that those who do wear it, find something deeper in life than what their external appearance. We all need more than that to be happy.

  88. I think they will have done themselves more harm than good. I think they underestimate the slim people of the world, who it seems, they believe are completely shallow and accepting of this kind of talk. I hope they are proved wrong and people, “the good looking ones” distance themselves from this statement and sales drop to prove this.

    • b.h.quinn on May 11, 2013 at 2:24 am
    • Reply

    This is a beautifully written post. I had no idea that A&F was so blatant about their prejudice. I never liked their clothes because… well, because the models seemed stuck up and the entire store reeked of judgement.

    I am someone who crossed that mysterious line. I’m 5’8″ and a size four, and I helped with my private school tuition by swimsuit modeling. But I’m a nerd and a geek. I prefer talking about Harry Potter and comic books to clothes and where the best party will be. Many of my friends are larger than a 10 and/or not “pretty.”

    As someone who’s been prejudiced against because of my looks (in a different way), I hope that someday people can find happiness in whatever works best for them, and decide to reach out instead of keeping it all in. And I hope that those who have the “privilege” of shopping there choose to shop somewhere with better morals.

  89. Hmm… interesting points about the ‘in’ crowd, sympathetically and well made. As for A&F, well it didn’t matter if my arse was a size 6, I could never jemmy my boobs into one of their tops. Seriously, their target female has a chest like an ironing board with a couple of knotted threads one end. Well… perhaps not but she did when I was a part of their target demographic. And if I want to mortgage my house to by a pair of jeans I’ll go to D&G or somewhere.

    A&F are not that big in the UK, I suspect because most of us dislike arrogance. Quiet self confidence is good but here in the UK over confidence and arrogance are up here with child molesting on the list of things the Brits consider ‘rum’. I find it rather sad that a) someone should even think of it as a selling point and b) anyone could be silly enough to fall for it.

    Ho hum.



  90. Dammit, I’ve spelled ‘buy’ wrong. Grr. Sorry about that.

  91. Kristen, what a great post. This guy is clearly a moron. I have seen the headlines but have not read his exact words yet, I have had a tough time staying at the computer this week since it’s vacation-land weather outside! But just wanted to mention because of his smugness over “who” he is looking for, demographically, I would be embarrased to wear any of their clothing. And I hope others would too. So yeah, I’m a size 2 sometimes, or a size 4, depending on the label, but it’s because I work hard at my health and fitness and strength and keep it top of mind every single day. One lesson I learned a few years ago, contrary to what people wishing to lose weight think, is that being thin does not solve your problems. It does not suddenly give you self-worth. It may give you a confidence boost, but it certainly isn’t the end-all-be-all of life. My self-perception since I have been thinner has been awful–become worse–and something I have been working hard on fixing. No brand of clothing will fix this problem, and A&F making people, esp. young kids, think it will, is negligent.

    • DJ on May 11, 2013 at 6:56 am
    • Reply

    what a complete turd.

  92. When I was in grade school I was so fat I used to win fights by threatening to fall on people.

    The whole “cool” thing still leaves me — nearly a half-century later — with a bitter taste in my mouth. The funny thing is how, esp. in high school, the teachers bought into it and reinforced it.

    I never understood what “cool” was. So I just ignored all that crap as best I could and kept on being myself: writing, studying, learning, thinking.

    Sometimes I look at Hollywood stars and think of them as the ultimate “cool” people, but then you read the “tabloid” side of that life anytime you’re at the supermarket and it sounds pretty much like what you’ve written here. I’ve wondered whether or not a lot of “stars” live the way they do because many of them realize there’s not actually anything that distinguishes them from the next actor/actress. I’m not saying they aren’t talented or hard-working, just that, ultimately, there’s no objective reason for any one person to have succeeded over any other in Tinsel Town. My theory, then, is that when you realize there isn’t any objective reason for your success, you have to shout louder and louder, all the time, more and more, to convince yourself and others of just how “cool” you are. How GREAT you are.

    Over the emptiness inside.

    Against that day the phone stops ringing.

    It’s sad.

    • Harold Thompson on May 11, 2013 at 9:34 am
    • Reply

    Kristen, where do I begin… First of all two thumbs up, well said. I could tell you my own story but it’s been done, sorta. Did you read/see the Outsiders. S.E. Hinton and Mr. Coppola have no idea how well they captured that reality.

    The A&F thinking has been around a long time and it’s pretty un-cool that Mr. Jeffries actually said it. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in a publicly traded stock.

    In the last twenty five years we have raised a lot of children and though I am not the father of any of them I have gained some insight watching them struggle with growing up and reflecting on my own. It’s a tough time to grow up and having the “right wardrobe” is only a perk not a foundation on which you can build everything else.

    I was not a cool kid and for good reason but what made it worse was not knowing I had value. If all a kid has is the cool factor then they can make shipwreck pretty easily when life throws the inevitable curve ball.

    Half of all children under 18 do not live with their biological parents. Does it make a difference? I can tell you that it absolutely does. So… [insert several chapters here] There have been too many casualties of cool culture and attitudes such as Mr. Jeffries is expressing does not help. Kids with great attitudes and parents with bank accounts big enough to buy that stuff don’t come out of thin air.

    Thanks again for this, you must be pretty cool :-),


    1. Awww, thank you Harold. I like hearing other people’s stories, for what it’s worth. Reading your opinions and experiences makes this blog all the better. And you make an excellent point about kids these days growing up in mixed families. A lot of families are struggling, the economy is in the tank, and now we can only be happy buying overpriced clothes made in Taiwan (likely)? NOT!

  93. I never shopped at A&F, but I’m not truly appalled by his comment, because his ads said ‘elitist’. When I was in high school, I knew kids who shopped at A&F, and they were elitist and rich, because I went to a high-taxpaying high school. I was a big girl so when I went shopping, I went into the the department store to get clothes. I went in A&F ONLY ONCE, and the lady looked me up and down and left. I looked at the closed as she was laughing and I know why she was. I went and told my aunt what happened, and she got the woman FIRED. To add insult to injury, she looked at the price at the clothes and said “your shit’s too rich for my taste anyway!”. We found the same design of clothes in my size in the department store! Can you believe that?!

  94. I’ve always despised Abercrombie & Fitch. Even as a high schooler, I knew that they were elitist and exclusive and mean. I could’ve fit into their clothes, but I refused to buy from them–even when it was SO COOL to have the Abercrombie & Fitch label on your clothes. I didn’t care about the label. I just knew they were wrong, somehow.

  95. Kristen-
    Excellent and moving post.
    When will marketers and the media learn that they’re hurting kids by presenting such unrealistic expectations? I have family and friends that suffer from bulemia and anorexia, spurred by this false message about body image presenting the “real you.”
    I didn’t have name brand clothes when I was a kid. After my parents were divorced, I was lucky to get new clothes at the beginning of the school year, and I had to work to help buy them.
    The worst part is I remember when I got a “real” job and bought a pair of Guess jeans (yeah, I’m dating myself with this since these haven’t be the “in” item since the 80s). I was thrilled to finally have some “cool” clothes.
    Those jeans didn’t make me happier or prettier. I didn’t gain more friends when I wore them or turn more heads. All of those were false promises made by the advertisers. Unfortunately, dropping half of my weekly paycheck for a pair of jeans gained me – a pair of jeans.
    Reblogged on:

  96. So much for taking a break, eh? But seriously, your fusillade echoes my own (which is sort of freaky), but the point is, there are so many who end their time on this hurling rock we call Earth because they are in so much pain reconciling outsides with insides (good looking or not). While we’ve let Adrian and Matt down, there are so many more who are dying on the inside. I appreciate the call to look inside the eyes of the folks we meet at the counter or in the the grocery line. Labels turn into one-of-a-king originals and all on the simple power of one. SO VERY FINE. Here’s to crossing the lines. Dan in Chicago

    • DM on May 11, 2013 at 11:07 am
    • Reply

    Referring neither to height nor circumference…Jeffries’ really is a small man.

  97. I know all too well about stigma attached to a person’s appearance and the clothes they may wear. As a young man returning from overseas I proudly wore my Marine Corps uniform while traveling home on leave to reunite with my family after a yearlong deployment. But the reaction from the general public in the United States was less than benevolent. This had a profound effect on me as a twenty-something year old. I decided then that since I just returned from a place where the whole population did not much care for me, the people in the States could get in line behind them. I really understand the emotional turmoil the respondents and author dealt because they thought of themselves as geeks.

    There are magnificent points made about obesity in each and every comment and I praise the author passion with accepting people for who they are not what they wear. This brings to mind a quote from a man who gave his all to point out everyone is equal. He said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” This is not a far stretch from being judged by the clothes one wears.

    One thing I did find missing was the reverse side of obesity – anorexia. How many of today’s adolescents are killing themselves by starvation to fit into the clothes Abercrombie & Fitch advertises and sells?

    In my mind not only does A&F demean young people who do not fit into their idea of a “cool kid”, they are complicit in the death of those who starve themselves to death so they can wear A&F clothing to be part of the in-crowd.

    What a shame!

  98. Very well said, Kristen. I went to school at a time when we didn’t have all the labels. I do think that’s made a difference. However, when I first read this, my immediate response (yes I came to age in the 60’s) was that a boycott would hurt him more than shaming him. People like him are shameless, and just don’t care what others think.

  99. I won’t shop there and have always hated their ads. Thank goodness my daughter is the anti-teenager, because she has never had any interest in their clothes. I love that she knows what she likes and won’t let anyone else tell her what she should wear or what she should look like. So grateful for that!

  100. I used to work as a TEFl teacher and tour guide for a language school. On one occasion taking a group of Italians to London, the girls asked me to take them to A&F. I didn’t know what it was so I navigated our way there, and once the girls dived inside, I took a step in before instinctively withdrawing in shock. I stood outside in the rain for more than half an hour, unable to go inside because I was certain I’d be asked to leave for being too old, too fat and too scruffy to grace their hallowed halls.
    It seems my instinct was correct.
    But you’re right. I recently encountered someone in my other job who fit the Mean Girls profile of A&F, and after enduring five days of snideness and being excluded, I managed to make one single short comment, issued in response to something she said that reduced her to tears and had her avoid me for the next few hours. It was a genuine joke, given in the same vein as all the remarks she’d been throwing my way. They are fragile and broken for sure, but they like to look *good* while they hide it.

  101. Reblogged this on FEMBORG.

  102. Such an insightful post—thank you! The media is more powerful than most of us realize, and messages like Jeffries,’ more damaging than perhaps even he’s aware. I interviewed the president of the National Eating Disorder Association on the topic (part of my blog post for Monday), who said that she’s never seen this kind of bigotry in a store’s marketing ploy. I agree with her, and with you. Beauty IS all around us, and it’s up to us to choose what we celebrate, support and focus on.

  103. Like Lord Odin, you needed the seven days of sleep to leave forever so was Thor by your side at Asgard or Evil Loki is bound to destroy the world.

    I agree with Michael Jefferies.

    [Jeffries is being hailed by some marketing experts as a brilliant visionary, but I wonder how he would be perceived if he was excluding people of color or sexual orientation. What would people think if he only wanted “white kids” or “straight people” wearing his clothing line?] You are saying that there are “no” African Americans or alternative lifestyle people who are in his category of a sales demographics. I do not buy there. I cannot even afford Wal-Mart factory outlet rethreads. But I have no problem with his marketing strategy. There are stores that sell to big size women. Specialty stores are what malls are all about. Will re-read later.

    1. I have no issue with him not wanting to sell to EVERYBODY. THAT part is smart. But you can sell to an audience without throwing everyone else under the bus. THAT is where I have a problem.

      1. I have no problem with the store or marketing plan. If the store does not have the products I want, I usually go somewhere else. Like many specialty stores, which are located in malls; the high gasoline prices is closing down his stores according to a comment. Gasoline prices went up a little bit, but it is still lower than the price of last year so things might pick up in all the retail markets. It might be the reason of articles reporting that electric automobiles are back on a demand decline. I am not insulted that his products are not designed for me. I would need to hem the bottom length, if I even found pants that had the waistline. I am not going to jog or exercise everyday so I could look good in one their outfits. It is normal to hire attractive people to work at the store. It is the same concept as putting attractive models on a cover of a novel so it would attract more people on display to sell more of the book. Be Don Quixote and slay your windmill. It is not my fight.

        1. The problem isn’t their demographic – just about every store has one. Heck, even writer’s have them. Mystery writers write for mystery readers, etc.

          Most stores, however, do NOT imply that those who cannot shop at their stores are “less than” another demographic group.

          Children and teens, even if they don’t show it, are extraordinarily sensitive. Words hurt. Sometimes they hurt more than anything physical. And they last much longer than bruises. THAT’S the problem. It takes time and maturity to reach the emotional point of “I really don’t give a white rat’s a$$ what you think or what your attitudes are. My life is my own.”

          If you’ve ever been or known a child who has been hurt by bullying, or non-acceptance, or name-calling then you’ll understand the damage this CEO can inflict by his snarky message.

          Do we really need to add one more self-satisfied stream of “better than” to the detriment of our already stressed children?

          Probably not.

          1. I grew up with kids having better than me all my life. My first cousins had the millions. Even my brother and sisters had it better than me because I could not buy OFF the RACK. K-Mart was cheaper than Montgomery Ward, but I still could not fit perfect off the rack. My mother would promise to hem it, but it usually ended up one pair folded up from the bottom. The gadget world will be similar. The kids are going to school with those having the latest cell phone or palm or tablets. It is one reason I always liked the uniform dress clothes in the school system at the Philippines in the private and national schools. They added casual Friday like corporations so the kids can dress their latest from the new malls. Our ending poverty can be attributed to the jobs from the new malls and fast food restaurants. All of Asia has an alarming elderly population, except the Philippines. We have a population explosion of 25 and under, which makes it even better since our wealthy that can create jobs to end the poverty like retail and service industry jobs along with tourism. We will have the human resources to continue the domestic growth for under 25 + 37 years before we our younger generation reaches the early retirement of 62 years.

  104. You might have to leave Asgard forever to straighten out the evil Loki did while you slept for seven days. The mythological gods need to re-charge like an electric car battery to travel the universe. Some superhero needs the sun to re-charge.

    I ate my fuel to re-charge of sunny side-up fried egg and a bacon slice and pandesal (bread with salt or bun with salt) and machine brewed coffee and the machine was brought here from America (Michigan) and it has the manufacturing for the American market electricity so it only works up to 7:30 A.M., which means instant “three and one” with boiled water afterwards. (Marketing)

    Communism tried to cater to the emotional needs of ALL by suppressing those, which wanted to market to specific demographics. It did not work. Malls have a variety of specialty stores. There are oversized stores for women.

    With the election happening at the Philippines, the politicians spending millions in American dollars to campaign are running into the poor that do not eat three meals a day or a meal a day so some are campaigning with free food and the talk of what about those that cannot succeed in life. What will they do?

    It is admirable, but you are better off promoting the stores that cater to those who do not have perfect bodies and there are places like CROSSLINES, which provides clothes for the poor.

    Let those capable of success be successful, and help those who cannot. All I have are words.

  105. As a average teen I am very sickened and angered by the message that the store is sending. Thank goodness all of their stores closed where I live.

    1. Well, it will be up to you guys to shut their stores or change their attitudes. Young people have the power 😉

      • Carol Newquist on May 12, 2013 at 10:19 am
      • Reply

      I’ve always seen this as their message. May I ask, what message did anyone think they were sending, if not this message?

    • Kayla on May 11, 2013 at 10:23 pm
    • Reply

    This is just not fair. As an overweight teen or according to Michael Jeffries “Fat”, I have never felt comfortable walking into a clothing store with fit model/sales people. I am a size 14/15, and according to Jeffries I am not cool, not popular, not beautiful. I never felt like I was any of those things, and never wanted to be cool or popular, but it still hurts. I try hard at losing weight but that doesn’t seem to be enough. Not fair, not fair at all. I feel more self conscious than I did before.

  106. It amazes me that any company or head of any company would come right out and show how shallow they are but this man did so… Way to go sir..

    I absolutely love your take on this.. You are 100% correct, our society is messed up, cruel and needs some love shared.

    I will be sharing this with my 14 yr old daughter who even tho she is a size 10 she feels she is fat. She is not fat at all but the message these kids get is just a sad one. We are more than our looks and our size only matters in our health.

    I hope you dont mind I would like to reblog your post.. Bravo to you for sharing your point of view.I agree with every point you made.

    1. Reblog and use anything you need.

  107. it is time to realise the brainwashing starts early.

    Children are not born cruel; they become so through careful and insidious indoctrination by parents, teachers and the media.

    We are all to blame if we choose to be brainwashed by the mind numbing publicity surrounding celebrities: what they wear; how they look; how they behave – (or misbehave), and the constant barrage about what we should eat, not eat, wear, not wear.

    People are made unhappy because they are made to feel inferior by failing to comply with the dictators of fashion and fad. I long ago decided to set fashion, rather than follow the dictates of others.

    1. Conditioning

    2. I don’t know. I’m thinking along the lines of Lord of the Flies here. Children are human and humans are fully capable of being good or evil. Yes, conditioning absolutely plays a role. What the roles models show the children as being acceptable and unacceptable shape the way the children behave.

      However, children also explore the idea of excluding others and picking on weaknesses. I’ve seen it with my children and they are pretty sheltered from celebrities (we watch little tv etc) and I know exactly who they hang around with (our homeschool group in addition to other friends).

      Kids can be selfish, rude and downright mean. And that’s the good kids! LOL. Kids tend to be more impulsive than adults and more in touch with their feelings. They tend to act out what we would filter out. Of course, good parents and role models know when to step in and how to help kids see how their behavior affects others.

      My children and sweet and beautiful but they are not always nice, especially to each other. We work on it on a daily basis, both encouraging the right behavior and getting rid of the bad.

      I think a lot of cruelty in kids tends to stem from too much time in the company of their peers without a lot of adult supervision. If there’s no adult (or older role model) to step in and/or offer guidance, kids will set up their own social hierarchy very quickly and many will be drawn towards the behaviors that increase their power within the group. Sadly, those behaviors tend to be crueler ones.

    • Carol Newquist on May 12, 2013 at 10:15 am
    • Reply

    At least the guy was honest. Designer trends are about being elitist and exclusionary, otherwise we’d all be wearing burlap sacks, or better yet, loin cloths. I have no problem with women going bare-breasted again. How come that never comes back in fashion? Bell-bottoms came back, so what about bare-breasted?

    As the father of two children, a daughter age fourteen and a son age ten, I can tell you good looks are not necessarily a gift. Behavior is part of it. Many people are “fluffy” because they engage in destructive behaviors, i.e. they lead too sedentary a lifestyle and their diet is atrocious. That’s as unhealthy as being overly-concerned about your appearance to the point of being narcissistically vain. My daughter is a beautiful girl, but she has a proclivity to be sedentary and she leans to processed carbohydrates as her default food choice. When she’s around friends, they snack too often and overeat. These are destructive behaviors that will haunt her later in life if they are not addressed now. It’s a very difficult thing to do with your children. You have to be sensitive to their self-esteem, and yet that’s the very reason you’re addressing the issue with them.

    Either way, even though this jerk is honest, he’s not a very astute businessman, meaning the trend, for all the reasons I stated and more, is a burgeoning “fluffy” market. The demographic he allegedly is targeting is shrinking. He’d gain a much greater market share if he designed clothing that would not only stylishly fit an increasingly overweight and out-of-shape population, but would also conceal their blood-sugar devices and insulin-filled syringes, not to mention the oxygen tanks and attendant tubes.

    • Carol Newquist on May 12, 2013 at 10:26 am
    • Reply

    Actually, now that I think about it, this may be shear genius on this jerk’s part. He knows that many people will think they are part of that group, and will therefore buy his clothing nonetheless, even if they have to shoehorn themselves into jeans and paint on the shirts. Think how many people perceive themselves as middle-class when they are just several paychecks from the Bowery. Same applies here. Many who are not part of that perceived elitist, exclusionary group, will still patronize A&B because they will delusionally believe they are. And also, there are always the wannabes who will do everything and anything to be part of something they could never be part of.

      • Carol Newquist on May 12, 2013 at 11:51 am
      • Reply

      That should read A&F, not A&B. What was I thinking the name was, Abercrombie & Bitch? Might as well be.

    1. Well, at least we know from this point on, it will be way easy to spot the @$$#)!*$ because they are properly labeled, LOL.

      1. LOL! A$$*(* at two o’clock, battlestations! I am sure various geeks can have fun with paintball and other products.

  108. Kristen, I was going to write m own post on this, but couldn’t have said it better.

    1. You will just say it differently, and we need to write about this stuff or nothing changes and it NEEDS to change. *hugs*

      1. I posted yours with my own take on it. Hugs.

  109. Kristen,
    Usually I don’t comment on blogs, but this one really touched me. I’m a size 10, just in that precarious, invisible border A&F have defined. I love my body, but it was not always that way. I am not offended that Jeffries thinks I am uncool. For every one person in my life who has tried to put me down to make themselves feel better, there has been one to tell me they love me, that I am fun and witty and kind. So i do not need Jeffies’ approval. I never shopped in his stores anyway.

    But I am constantly astounded at the lack of love we continue to have for each other, and this is what upsets me. You hit the nail on the head with this article. The messages we are sending people, especially kids – that there is a right personality and a wrong personality, a cool way to be and an uncool way to be – are extremely dangerous. It creates a war between types of people who cannot communicate because they are too worried about what others think – on both sides. I mourn for your peers and others who feel alone because of what “clever” marketing is telling us.

    Thankfully, the cruel kids who never grew up are in the minority. Everyone is beautiful. Skinny people included. But Kristen is right – our outer beauty is not what defines us. We are so much more. We are creative, athletic, funny, generous, quirky, eccentric, brave, smart, and fashion-forward. It’s a good thing we don’t need companies like Abercrombie to prove it.

    1. I am not sure if societies, other than the United States have this problem. They might, but not in the same way. The United States as John Cleese and Grace Coddington have both stated is a very high energy, competitive society. Do Japanese kids get bullied, just for different reasons? I am trying to find a book I read on changing habits. One of the things he discussed, was Dr. Martin Luther King’s Montgomery Bus Boycott. It was changing the habits of a lifetime for people in Montgomery. Can the same be done for cool and not cool kids.

      1. They have different problems. The Asians have an ASTOUNDING suicide rate. And it can be something as simple as making a bad grade on a test. They have a suicide epidemic. Humans come in all shades of messed up. Love is the only answer.

        1. Love may well be the only answer.

      2. Here at the Philippines, we have to deal with American politics. The latest is trying to get our wealthy to support the notion of electing Hillary president on 2016. It includes the intimidations and mind games and bullying. Playing the Liberal Democrat, but many will probably support a Boston Catholic so the Clinton supporters (many are Filipino New Yorkers) will play games with our Catholic religion to do counter intelligence. We might have a Red Sox and Yankees baseball game before 2016. When they were preparing for Barack since he won a senate race, they were already accusing people of prejudice against African American military men out here. I should know. I was accused of prejudice and I was darker than the military men with “afros” (guards and reserves like Texas Air Force reserves) and I was taller. I was not really scared of the possible invasion if we did not help elect Barack. Nigerians started showing up out here also. The suicide rates could have been gang rapes and the media had to report something else. Asia has to live with the American politics, a wild card in the society games. There is the scare tactics on Filipino women because they are more against the American military bases returning. The men will try to be cool with the boys, like the Dallas Cowboys visiting indefinitely.

  110. Well said! True beauty, true value, true worth – these all come from who we are inside – because we all have the same thing: God given LIFE. Your letter to A & F is also right to the point and kudos to you for stepping up and taking a stand.

  111. Two words. It’s unconscionable! Excellent Blog!

    • Natalie on May 13, 2013 at 8:19 am
    • Reply

    I’m currently a freshman in college. I grew up near the city, Chicago. I’m a cool kid. I’m attractive. I’m all-American. I have a great attitude with lots of friends. I have the money to buy Abercrombie & Fitch. And my favorite place to shop for clothes is still and has always been Target.

    Trends are merely a part of the mindsets of the communities in which we belong. The kids at my high school and I made it a trend to not wear brand names, and it worked. Make it a trend to NOT shop at Abercrombie & Fitch.

  112. I stopped shopping at A&F when they changed their target customer from Safari/Adventure types to Teen grunge, about twenty-five years ago. I see my decision was well founded.
    I hope for their sake that his children are not overweight, have zits, go Goth, etc. He would have to accept that he is a hippocrit as well as a lousy CEO.

  113. Kristen, I especially liked the part where you addressed the “cool kids” directly in a voice of loving concern. Mocking A & F and their insidious message is funny and effective, but the kids themselves who are being sucked in, they deserve a message of care. It’s too easy for the rest of us to hate on ’em which helps nothing.

  114. Unbelievably sad commentary of our times. We are supposed to be good role models. What were they thinking? I have girls that I try to raise to be empowering and this is what I have to compete with!

  115. Reblogged this on Cynthia Stacey and commented:
    Very sad indeed. It’s no wonder young girls have issues about weight and looks today when they see this stuff!

    • jodenton445 on May 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm
    • Reply

    This is an incredible post. A lot of insight about how things appear to be and what’s really under the surface. I’ve always been on the chubby side, which did make for a lot of miserable times, but growing up with 5 brothers, I learned to be a fighter. Funny, but that made me fall kinda in the middle. I would speak up for others and the cool people didn’t mess with me. It’s unfortunate that we have so many kids hurting inside and not knowing how to ask for help.
    And no, I don’t think you’re overreacting at all. You made very valid points.

  116. Hear, hear, Kristen. You are absolutely spot on with this post. Kudos. I imagine it would be too much to ask for A&F (and others like that, who equate thinness & expensive clothing to coolness and being worthwhile) to take note.

  117. Reblogged this on Holly's Walk and commented:
    This writer usually blogs about writing and things related to publishing. But here she takes a moment of her time to take on Abercrombie & Fitch, and I’m glad she did. Her post is a magnificent summary of what is wrong with A&F and with their attitude that being skinny and having expensive clothes equal being cool and worthwhile.

  118. I reblogged your post. Hope you don’t mind. It’s a message that needs to get out there!

  119. Kristen, you really touched my heart with this. I was not one of the cool girls, mostly because I didn’t realize my value. I may not look like a supermodel but I’m me and that’s pretty awesome. Carrying extra pounds does not make me less of a person, nor will losing those extra pounds make me a better person.

    I’m all for being healthy but healthy isn’t just a size. A “skinny” person isn’t necessarily healthier than a “fat” person. The scale doesn’t tell the whole truth. It doesn’t tell how much muscle mass you have or whether you have inflammation and/or metabolic issues. While you can certainly carry around too much weight for your body, just what makes an “ideal” body weight is individual and the BMI doesn’t always hit the mark.

    I think this whole appearance thing strikes women the hardest. I’m so violently sick of the idea that women owe the world an attractive appearance and that the world has a right to determine just what that “attractive appearance” is. The first thing folks of either gender seem to look at when they look at women is attractiveness. If they dislike the woman, it’s often her appearance that’s insulted first. When it comes to men, we often look deeper than his appearance. We look at what he does and who he is (okay…we also look at how powerful he is).

    1. I was a good example of this. Back in December I was over 180 pounds and a size 16…but I did Bikram yoga 5 days a week. That is an hour and a half of yoga in a room that’s 112 degrees. I ate GF, dairy-free, soy-free and all organic. When they did my blood work, everything was perfect…except I had too much weight on me. Long story short I CANNOT eat carbs from grains. No corn, no rice, no quinoa. If I eat carbs they need to be in the form of broccoli. Body cannot tolerate them. So, limited to veggies and protein and have gotten back down to a size 8-ish? Anyway, even though I was very overweight for my height, I was EXTREMELY healthy.

      1. I’ve heard that from others too. Their doctors are shocked at their bp and blood work. Because they’re overweight, they “should” be unhealthy too. It isn’t always that way.

        I hear you on the carbs. I can eat veggies and fruit but grains kick my but. The struggle for me is that I’m hooked on the grains and sugar. I’m working on it though.

        1. I deal with the same. My cholesterol is good, my doctor is shocked at how strong I am, my blood pressure is good. Last week a gene was found, showing many will always be overweight, and will not want to work out. All I could think of was the next energy drink that would make folks want to go to the gym. 🙂 BTW Marilyn Monroe was a size 16. Good grief. I wonder if it is because the size 2’s are so rare, that it has become “cool.”

  120. What an amazing blog post Kristen!!
    I know… I know how it is… being the one born with no thyroid gland which caused me weight problems the moment I turned into a woman, I was ALWAYS mocked, sometimes pushed around, got sarcastically mean remarks and hurtful and painful comments.
    Only when I started to change my clothing style, a few years back, deciding I’ve had it to wear potato sacks I started feeling better and getting a little more self confidence… but it’s still quite instable… and I’m very easily hurt.
    Thanks for sharing this!!

  121. Thanks for the heads-up about A&F. A little information goes a long way when it comes to making buying choices.

    1. Or donating them, LOL.

    • Morag on May 13, 2013 at 7:15 pm
    • Reply

    I have never been fashion-conscious. I suspect that might have been deliberately engineered by my Mother in my teens: I had spent two years knitting a school cardigan in my school uniform colour of royal blue, and by the time I had finished it, the uniform had changed to grey. My Mother got a special dispensation from the headteacher that I could wear my cardigan, given how much work I had put into it. Imagine the scene: grey, grey, grey, dot of blue, grey, grey, grey. That sort of thing soon inures you to the idea of fitting in! I know have two boys, 12 and 14, and I’m pleased to say that neither of them has ever shown any interest in brands.

  122. Hi Karen!

    My issue growing up was the fact I was the youngest child a poverty stricken family with a last name ridiculed by most of the people in my school…including some of the teachers and other administrative personnel. I’m sure this was a major influence in my being extremely shy and introverted. In my teen years I seriously considered suicide and as a young adult suffered from anorexia and now bulimia as I tried in every way imaginable to “erase” the fact I even existed. Now I have the ability to find some level of humor and irony in the fact while the other kids in my high school did everything in their power to dismiss my existence, they still managed to vote me as “Most Likely To Succeed” in my yearbook which I found unbelievable at the time (as did the Homecoming Queen who won no such accolades). You know, they were right. I succeeded in surviving my childhood, survived high school with it’s bullying and degrading implication I held no value because I wore hand me down clothes, and today I have the freedom to lift the spirits of my martial arts students and reach out to children everywhere with my stories…challenging them be themselves…to love themselves…and do not think themselves less than worthy simply because they lack the designer label on their clothing.

    Thank you, Karen, for speaking up when others may not have the strength to do so. I always knew there was a reason I never entered that particular clothing establishment…now I know I’m not missing much.

    Donna L Martin

  123. Love the numerous layers that you address in your post! I just launched my blog with a post about A & F and the bigger picture. I think the most important thing that comes from this is the conversations we are having about it…we are really discussing what it means to be excluded…but also the definition of beauty and worth. Feel free to check out my post

  124. Heya i’m for the primary time here. I came across this board and I in finding It truly helpful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to provide something back and help others such as you aided me.

  125. go buy your clothes somewhere else if it bothers you so much….there are plenty of other stores. Trust me, there are those of use who like their clothes, not for us but for our kids. And we KNOW they aren’t for us, so I go to Talbots or Anne Taylor or a TJ Maxx for cheaper version…my kid won’t wear Ralph Lauren, not cool to her but to me, Now THATs for the cool people. Cool is an attitude. The more uncool you are, the more you need the attitude that you are cool being uncool. find something important to worry about like abused animals and children, Isreal being wiped off the face of the earth, murders in Sudan, there are a million terrible things happening in the world…why would you waste time on this?

    1. I “waste” time on this because people should be more focused on the inner man than the outer; that they wouldn’t be committing suicide from emptiness inside because they buy the lie that clothes make us whole. Serving others and having a higher purpose (like saving abused animals) should be the REAL focus. But maybe teen suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction (all addressed in this post) aren’t important enough issues for you. Children dying because of misguided societal values is something I gladly “waste” my time addressing.

        • Lara on May 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm
        • Reply

        Hear, hear, Kristen! I agree wholeheartedly with you, as do most of us here, I’m sure. Keep it up!

  126. I have to appreciate the honesty Of Abercombie and Fitch , that’s the difference between that set who are , and those are trying to be .If you are hot then you have supreme confidence and if you are not .You try and justify why the world sees you so , So get over it .You are not hot

    1. Thank you for proving my point that ugly comes from the inside. Very brave of you.

  127. Reblogged this on Communicatism and commented:
    A great post from Kristen Lamb’s view on Abercrombie & Fitch. I haven’t bought any A&F stuff for years. Although I used to like them, I noticed it is not creative. Rather, it recycles all the same style and use the beautiful people for marketing. Indeed, the company brands its reputation and identity in the market very well, but is it ethical?

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