Many of you may already be aware of a story that recently made the news concerning Mike Jeffries, the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch. I briefly made mention of it in my last post as a passing aside, but I have been thinking more about it since. In case you missed what all the hullabaloo was about, Jeffries and his company are accused of not carrying clothes above a size 10 because he wants to target cool, attractive consumers. This statement would suggest that Jeffries does not believe anyone larger could be considered cool or attractive. And in case you didn’t make that inference, he pretty much spells it out that is indeed what he believes.
Well, as you can imagine, this whole thing unleashed the virtual ire of bloggers everywhere. (To be fair, our ires aren’t very tightly leashed to begin with.) This was perfect fuel for Jen over at People I Want to Punch in the Throat. You can be as sure as the sky is blue that the Huffington Post had a take on it…and another one. One of the best beat-downs (albeit a restrained and intelligent beat-down) came from my friend Nicole at Here’s the Diehl. The consensus: people are outraged.
But you know what? I’m not outraged. In fact, I would even go so far as to say I think it is great that he said it. More people should be like Mike Jeffries. Actually, let me amend that statement: more CEOs should be like Mike Jeffries.
The world of capitalism has provided a practically infinite number of places I can spend my money. There are billions of pieces of clothing for sale all around the world, and thanks to Jeffries’ transparency about his disgusting view of what is good business practice and his sad, unfulfilled view of humanity, he just made my shopping trip that much shorter. I never again have to consider giving his company my money when anyone in my family needs a new outfit. And the way I see it, if more company CEOs were more brutally honest about their own views of potential consumers, I could even more drastically narrow down the number of places I patron. I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to know that most of your dollars went to companies whose goals mirrored your own? I for one would love to support businesses who aim to better the human experience in some way or another. But if you are the kind of person whose priority is looking cooler at the expense of another’s self worth, it is nice to know that Jeffries has molded the perfect store for you.
Furthermore, I would also like to thank Jeffries for making my job as a parent easier. With a daughter who is wading into the outer banks of the fast-moving current of fashion, I know the time may soon come when she cares about brand names. When she is pestering me to buy her this “outfit” from Abercrombie & Fitch,
I won’t have to annoy her with the obvious reasons for saying no (1. that someone has again mistaken some obviously uncomfortable underwear for swimwear, and 2. that there is no possible scenario in which I would willingly fork over $198 + tax for her to look like she got interrupted halfway through getting dressed to go scatter chicken feed from her satchel on the family farm). Now I have moral ground. All I will have to tell my daughter is that our family doesn’t give money to companies who place value on people based on how their appearances fit into a predetermined mold. And my daughter will understand, because even at the age of eight, she already knows that’s not cool. Then again, Jeffries and I seem to have very different ideas of what is cool.
I doubt that any of the recent criticism of him is phasing Jeffries, including mine. I am actually quite certain he does not want my money anyway. While I have always been slim (aside from say, oh, the years of 2005 to 2010 when I was growing babies and living off the extra blubber they brought with them), I was never drawn to Abercrombie & Fitch, even as a teen. Part of that could be because my parents’ unwavering “thriftiness” inevitably taught me that brands weren’t all that important. But it could also be because the image the store put out to the world subliminally told me I wasn’t wanted there. They were just another cool kid to me; and I may have been skinny, but I wasn’t cool. Nowadays, I am slim again, and pretty popular around the schoolyard, thanks to my very local smash hit video, “My Van is Stacked.” But I heard a rumor that A&F clothing spontaneously combust if you get behind the wheel of a minivan, so I probably don’t make the target customer list. I also feel certain that Jeffries wouldn’t even want my children as customers. While it is still a bit too early in the game to know which rung of the social ladder they will end up on, I have a suspicion that my daughter may not blossom into the body type of the prized A&F prototype. See, my daughter looks very much like her father…she is also built like him. And it’s a good thing, too, because it turns out that my husband makes very beautiful girls. But her broad shoulders and wider hips that sometimes struggle to fit into the clothes cut to fit tiny little girl frames might just have to wear an extra-large someday. And I’ll be damned if I give one cent to a company that says she’s only worthy of their clothes until she outgrows what they see as acceptable sizes. Consequently, I also won’t buy A&F clothes for my son, who is built tall and lean and may very well one day have the abs like the naked models who are supposed to be selling clothing. Because I’ll be damned if I give one cent to a company that tells him that his only worth lies in the fact that he does fit into what they see as acceptable sizes.
So hey, Mr. Jeffries, it’s no skin off my back. I thank you for your honesty, and I heard you loud and clear. You have sincerely done me a huge favor just by being yourself. And I will happily return the favor by keeping my uncool family and our imperfect bodies out of your clothes. That’s American capitalism at its finest.
Now Mike, can we talk about your signature fragrance…