Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that. In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.
– Mike Jeffries
You have issued a public apology (which was even posted in Facebook) for a comment you made to Salon in 2006. The issue has resurfaced, this means no one seems to be buying your apology – or your clothes, as much as you would want to.
You are entitled to your opinion. Well, so are we. As a plus size model (from where I come from) I am not personally fazed by the trend you want to exclusively set for the American youth. Firstly, I am not American. Secondly, I am not skinny and after all dire attempts, I never will be. Lastly, I live in the continent that makes your clothes and where your damaged ones are ignored in our surplus shops. But the thing is, as the “big” clothing brand that you are, you are drawing the perspective of the future in commercial fashion. A future where my two daughters will be a big part of just like the many daughters (and sons) of other families. So I think we have a problem here.
But don’t flatter yourself, this letter is not only meant for you. This is meant for other bullies like you who have distorted how the young adults are supposed to see themselves. 14-year-old Fiona Geraghty committed suicide after confessions of being bullied in her boarding school for being “fat”. Her parents or her doctor didn’t take her seriously but for the coroner assigned to her death. Thankfully, the coroner was smarter to point out who the culprit was. Number one on the list is the “Fashion Industry” (your category “Sir”) and then there is the media and the internet, where you are “largely” involved with.
The one class of person not here who I feel [is] directly responsible for what happened is the fashion industry…I do ask, particularly the magazines in the fashion industry, to stop publishing photographs of wafer-thin girls…I do implore it, because at the end of the day for their benefit, families like this must suffer. It is, I am afraid, an increasing problem and until they control themselves it will continue.
As it is, even parents of girls as young as 10 must suffer this loss. An Anti-Bullying law in Illinois will not stop suicide cases like these if companies like you continue to drive the idea that “fat is ugly” into children’s heads. You make the bullies, sir, as well as the victims.
Fiona and many other kids have resorted to purging, a self-destructive response to harassment in more ways than one. Sadly teen blogs promote it to support each other’s cause for fitting into the clothes you display in your shop. A blogger who admitted to forcing food out of her mouth lists down its threats to the body and mind. She says that it is a constant idea that might never go away. Her blog description in itself is a headlight:
I don’t consider myself as beautiful because I can see the flaws
While most have harangued you in their blogs – like a plus size blogger in her mock ad for A&F – others have entered the fray of debates. Benjamin O’Keefe, a survivor of an eating disorder who has launched a mass awareness with his petition hasn’t only caught your attention but the general public as well. A comment has reproached O’Keefe’s lack of self-worth. Then another one says to simply boycott you. Period. But the effects of the 7-year-old comment which drew the lines between fat and skinny, cool and uncool cannot be rubbed off. Even after meeting with the protesters who were still against your apology, 80% of Nottingham University students will not have you in Career Day.
This must be old news to you. However, in an effort to understand you —especially considering that your sales are going down hill—it would seem that this deluge of publicity effects arising from the skeletons you have dug up for public commodity is a simply a calculated strategy for attention. Be it positive or negative publicity, you will get people to talk about you again.
Would that be true? Is this all just an advertising stunt? If it is, you are more desperate than we initially thought.
We may never know the real deal behind your actions so we will go back to the intent of this letter instead since this is something that many understand and relate to.
For as long as companies like you serve the thought of defined commercialism, a certain market will always join your campaign. A certain girl will always feel inadequate – rather over-quantified to pull an A&F ensemble. A certain boy would have to overly abuse himself to get the washboard abs of your models instead of studying for the University finals. A certain clique will always have to intimidate the non All-American teen who is in the same school. A certain magazine has to present the A&F vision to its readers who belong to the XL (XXL or X-to-the-infinity-L) audience. A certain TV show has to embody the skinny, beautiful and “cool” school kids that you are adamant to sell to. A certain movie with an actor will portray a dandy youth, who is in reality neither dandy nor young. And a certain family in a quiet suburb will grieve over another death from suicide owed to bullying. Until you change how you want the world to see itself, the world will never cease to struggle for the perfection companies like you have decided to stitch the world into.
Plus Size Author