The Abercrombie effect


My newsfeed was flooded last week with articles and videos surrounding the statements made by Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries, and rightly so.

In an interview with Salon, Jeffries said, “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.”

The CEO admitted that his company intentionally doesn’t carry larger-sized clothes for women because he doesn’t want “less attractive” people wearing his clothes. Jeffries’ statement was actually quite ironic given his own physical features are not exactly desirable.

What I think is interesting though is the outrage I have seen from so many people. Celebrities are joining the fight against the clothing company and a video of a young man giving homeless people A&F clothes has gone viral. I think we are so upset by this because of how blunt and inconsiderate Jeffries was with his comments.

But let’s take a step back. I once asked a fellow BYU student why he wouldn’t ask a girl out on a date in our ward, despite the fact that they hung out together often. His response was, “Well, she is a beautiful daughter of God, but she just isn’t my type.”

In other words, he didn’t find her outward appearance to be attractive enough, even though when they were together they enjoyed each other’s company. I’m going to bet that most of us have heard that phrase at one point or another during our time at BYU and I’m going to assume that most of the time we are not offended when we hear it.

I know physical attraction is important when it comes to relationships. I’m not trying to say it isn’t. I’m just pointing out that even though we say it in a more sensitive way here at BYU, we still call people “ugly” just like Jeffries did. His way was just more “in your face” and blatantly rude.

The comments Mr. Jeffries made bothered me. I, too, wanted to go to my closet and throw out the one or two items of clothing I own from Abercrombie. And I probably would have if I wasn’t a poor student who can’t afford to buy nice clothes whenever I want.

But after I got over how upset I was, I realized I have done the same thing. Not exactly on the public stage that Jeffries did and I don’t own a multi-million dollar clothing company, but I have judged people on the way they look.

A couple of years ago, I went out with this guy who I didn’t think was cute at all. We had a nice time, and I could see us as friends, but I wasn’t attracted to him. A couple of days later, he told me he liked me and asked me out again. My response was all fumbled, but I managed to tell him that I thought he was a “great guy,” but I didn’t think a relationship would work out. When a friend asked me why I wasn’t going on another date with him, I gave my go-to answer, “He’s a special spirit, but I don’t want to date him.”

Was I exclusionary? Absolutely. I left him out of my dating pool because I was saving it for my “attractive all-American kid” just like Jeffries does with his clothes. And on top of that, I told my friend I thought he was unattractive.

I’m not defending Jeffries’ statements. They’re disgusting. I think Jeffries’ should publicly apologize and make changes to his brand. However, at one point or another, we have judged someone for they way they look based on whether we thought they were good looking or not. We have included and excluded people from our social circles.

I’m just trying to point out that we all need to be careful before we cast the first stone.

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