Friday, May 10, 2013

An open letter to Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries

Mr. Jeffries,

I have no doubt you've received many letters from the 'haters' who weren't cool enough, thin enough, or popular enough to wear Abercrombie and Fitch.

I wasn't one of them.

I started wearing Abercrombie when I could only fit into Abercrombie Kids - a scraggly 12 year girl with no shape at all, who was lucky enough to have parents who traveled often. There was no 'Abercrombie Kids' in my town... so I was lucky to be amongst the elite handful of preteens who first started wearing it, like the high-schoolers we so desperately emulated. I saw your blond, sun-kissed models on the walls and anxiously awaited the day I'd be 'big enough' to shop at the main store.

Flash forward a few years... I've, as they say, 'come into myself'. My angles turned into gorgeous curves, my acne-covered former skin is now tan and smooth with just a hint of makeup. I'm 17 and a size-zero, blond-haired, beauty queen. I can say that now - because with 10 years of looking back, I can finally see myself as I truly was. But in reality, at that moment I was an insecure girl in a mini-skirt who flatteringly accepted when a tan boy with blond curls approached me while shopping and offered me a job. I was 'Abercrombie material.' My confidence soared.

Today...I'm nearly 30, I've given birth to four kids and you know what? A decade later, I am still a damn good-looking, size-three blond who wouldn't look at all out of place shopping in your store. So my point is, I'm qualified by your own standards to be worthy of your attention. You can tell the rest of them "too bad for you" if you want, but I spent too many years of my life wearing your clothes, contributing to your financial success, and most importantly - being a judgmental, exclusive bitch. Because YOU sold me on the idea - you told me that's what men wanted. In your catalogs, on your walls, the music you played... you were a voice in my head that told me the only important thing to be was popular, and the only way to be popular was to be sexy. You reminded me with every advertisement that my worth lay exclusively in my ability to look good in a bikini next to a stud wearing A&F board shorts.

You've created a niche. I have a Bachelor degree in Business, I can appreciate that. But consider this: You don't see social media peppered with hate mail to the CEO of Lane Bryant. Why do you suppose that is? From a business standpoint, you're exclusively marketing towards a narrow demographic. That's not illegal, it's good business sense.

Perhaps it's not being exclusionary that made people hate you. Perhaps its because they realized through your interviews that you never grew up. The rest of us are admittedly ashamed that we took part in creating an image that made so many feel inadequate. But you aren't for some reason. The fat girls are fat and that's not your problem, right?

Well, it may not be now... but in 10 years, I can promise you: it's going to be. I am the proud, loving mom of four gorgeous, thin, 'all-American' little girls. And I can promise you, they will never be wearing Abercrombie and Fitch. By the time they are old enough to choose their own attire, they will have learned that they have so much more to offer than a tiny waist. That the most important thing they wear is a smile, not a brand name. That being cool is treating other people with respect - no matter their shape or size. And you know what? There are hundreds and thousands of other moms just like me. Together, we are raising a generation of little girls who have bigger dreams than being crowned homecoming queen.

In ten years, Mike - YOU are going to be the unpopular one. You market to young children exclusively to plant that ugly seed of self-doubt in their minds. You tell them they NEED Abercrombie to be liked - that's the message here. And that's just not cool.

Sincerely,
Kim

3 comments:

  1. Way to go, Kim! If the man won't listen to you, he is beyond help!

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  2. Way to go, Kim! If the man won't listen to you, he is beyond help!

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  3. AWESOME!!!!! I can guarantee him that niether my all american blonde haired surfer looking boy or my gorgeous dark haired blue eyed girl will ever own a single shred of his clothing!!!! And I will spread the word to all my friends and family too....We are the demographic that can afford that stuff....but I will not allow my hard earned money to support such a debilitating trend. Our poor young girls are starving themselves, worrying and making themselves sick to be skinny instead of just enjoying their childhood. It is marketers like him that push that on them. it is up to us as parents to instill self worth into our children and to encourage shopping at establishments where only looks are encouraged...then we are ultimately failing our own children.
    kd

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