Mike Jeffries Hates Fat People. Or Does He?

4 Jun
DANGER ... Silence Gun: Strange weapon of the ...

Does A&F sell this on a T-Shirt?(Photo credit: marsmet511)

First let me say that, by modern society’s standards, I’m fat. Depending on the sizing charts and how they fit, I wear anything between a 12 – 16. By medical ‘ideal weight’ charts, I’m obese, because at 5’7″, I weigh around 180 lbs., and according to them, my maximum weight should be 165, but I constantly have to tell people that yes, I do indeed weigh what I say I weigh, between having a large (and apparently heavy) bone structure, and how I carry my weight, I appear to not be as heavy as I am, because it’s not an ‘all over’ thing. I have a lot of trouble shopping for clothes. I’m in that twilight zone between ‘normal’ and ‘plus size’ where nothing fits just right.

On the other hand, my best friend is 5-foot-nothing, and resembles a toothpick with boobs. She also has trouble shopping for clothes, because since ‘0, 1, 2, 3’ closed (local shop for those girls who are so skinny, ‘normal’ clothes don’t fit them either) she has trouble finding clothes that fit, either in height, waist or both.

If A&F wants to cater to people who have trouble finding ‘trendy’ clothes in a small enough size to fit them, I say go for it. But if you’re going to do it, do it because you want to fill a very real need for a specific demographic, not because you want to keep the fatties out of your ‘cool kids’ club. Even if the reason behind it is the latter, only an idiot would broadcast it, instead of spinning it as something positive.

I was all fired up after reading this post, ready to rip the guy a new ass-hole, but, never being one to take someone’s word on a subject, especially one as touchy as weight and discrimination, I followed the link and read the original article. The first large quote wasn’t even from Mike Jeffries, it was someone else’s interpretation of something he may or may not have said. The second (small print) and third (large print) quotations were apparently Jeffries’ words (although there was no link that I found showing the source of said quotations, just the author’s word of their source- no, I didn’t look it up.  Feel free to dig if you want, I wasn’t going to go back that far- he allegedly said these things in 2006).

Now, ‘boo’ me for my opinion if you want, but when you take the two quotes actually attributed to him out of the article, and look at them on their own from a business point of view (the blunt, boardroom kind of business, not the sugar-coated PR-filtered, PC-feel-good garbage that we’re used to getting from companies), then yes, what he said might sound mean and exclusionary, especially if you’re one of the fat kids that never got to be cool (which I was, and still am to this day- probably because of sharing opinions just like this), but from a business standpoint, it does make sense (once you take out the douchebag-trying-so-hard-to-be-cool language).

Let’s take a closer look:

Quote 1:

What he said:

“It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our
stores. 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,”

What he should have said:

“Image. Let’s face it, it matters, and the image we try to project is that cool people wear our clothes, and if you wear them, you can be cool and good-looking, too. We hire and market specifically to target our chosen image.”

Quote 2:

What he said: 

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are
the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “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. Those
companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young,
old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t
alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either,”

What he should have said: 

“Scarcity, real or imagined, makes any product more desirable. It’s a proven marketing strategy. Our brand of scarcity just happens to be real. It is not available for those outside a certain size demographic. It is a simple matter of supply and demand. If we supplied everyone, the demand for our products would decrease.

There are companies whose marketing strategies send the message “You’re special, just like everyone else.” and then there are those companies that say “You’re special and unique, and we cater to you.” We are one of the latter companies. Much like Lane Bryant, but in reverse. We simply get more slack for it because we cater to the side of the spectrum that has less sympathy from the general public.”

Same meaning, different words, and oh, how different they sound.

Of course it hurts to be excluded.  It really does bring us back to those high school days when the ‘in-crowd’ roamed the school halls in beautiful packs, provoking envy and wistfulness in all of us who could do nothing except watch from the outside, and we tend to react to it the same way as adults as we did back then; lift our noses in scorn and exclaim, “I
didn’t want to be part of your stupid club, anyways!”

Lies. 

We wanted to be included then, and we want to be included now; but when someone dares tell us we can’t, we lash out with scorn and injured pride, using our keyboards to whip out diatribes frothing with indignant consumerism.  Meanwhile, our excluded inner-adolescent cheers us on, glorying in the opportunity to strike out against every one of those ‘popular kids’ we’ve secretly resented for years.  You know what I’m talking about… it’s that same mean little voice that sneers in satisfaction when you go to a high-school reunion and see that the head cheerleader has gained 50 pounds since graduation, and the football star she married (the one you secretly loved from afar) sports a comb-over and a beer-gut.

I guess what I’m saying is that, when I read this, putting aside my personal baggage about not fitting into society’s idea of ‘beauty’ (or a size 6), and his amazing ability to not keep his foot out of his mouth, I see the business behind the obvious idiocy.

The man is a public relations nightmare, and shouldn’t be allowed out of the house without a PR rep by his side (carrying a giant roll of duct tape),  but do I think that when his words are taken in context, without the emotional flare-ups and personal issues that cloud sound logic and judgment, what he said is not nearly as horrible as it’s being made out to be. 

Tell your inner child to let it go because, if you were being honest, you know damn well you’re not really that upset that you can’t wear A&F’s boring, preppy, over-priced clothes, anyway.

And yes, the fat adult-me, AND the fat adolescent-me would still secretly like to see someone bitch-slap his snobby, stuck-up, elitist ass.

While I’m sure that this post got more than a few a little hot under the collar, please know that reacting emotionally to things is a bad habit I am trying to break.  Looking at things logically and objectively are two virtues I lack, which I am working on, so if this article seemed cold or unsympathetic, please understand that it wasn’t intended that way.  Also, I think Ms. Hawksworth has a wonderful blog, and she’s an excellent writer. I want to make clear that nothing I said was toward hers or any other blog or article I linked to in my post.  My comments about the ‘diatribe’ were aimed more at the outraged, over the top comments I have read regarding this subject, rather than toward any post or entry. 

Also, I don’t now, nor have I ever, worked in a PR firm… but I’m really good at making shit smell like roses.  My services are available for a modest fee…

~A

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11 Responses to “Mike Jeffries Hates Fat People. Or Does He?”

  1. Katie June 4, 2013 at 6:44 am #

    I used to weigh 250lbs., and let me tell you, not being able to shop at Abercrombie & Fitch was never high on my list of grievances. I remember a hullabaloo many years ago in which they were marketing thongs for 11 year olds or some shit… Personally, I don’t care too much. If you’re a skinny bitch “cool” kid, and you want to pay $75 for a shirt that says Abercrombie with a moose on it, go for it. I think this is a guy that desperately needs some PR people in his life.

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos June 4, 2013 at 6:53 am #

      I’d nominate myself for the position, but I really don’t want a job that requires that much work.

      There’s a time and a place for venting your un-PC, secret prejudices you’d never admit to anyone except the friend that loves you enough to help you bury a body, and an interview is SO not that place.

      Apparently it’s true… you just can’t fix stupid.

      On a side note… 250 lbs? No way! I’m embarrassed to admit the truth, but I saw your picture above your ‘about me’ blurb, saw your page title ‘diet and exercise’ and mentally snorted and thought ‘like she really needs that!’ I am humbled and chastised for making snap assumptions, and I applaud you for having the self-discipline to become healthy.

      I think I officially have a girl-crush. LOL.

      Like

      • Katie June 4, 2013 at 7:02 am #

        LOL! I don’t blame you for judging. Even though I’m technically normal-sized now, when I see skinny bitches complaining about working out, I still roll my eyes.

        Proof: http://i43.tinypic.com/2u7633n.png

        Like

        • KraftedKhaos June 4, 2013 at 8:32 am #

          Wow! First, let me say that you were pretty then, and you’re pretty now, but… wow! You don’t even look like the same person!

          According to your blog, you’re 22, and you’re holding an obviously alcoholic beverage (or a cleverly disguised Shirley Temple) in the ‘proof’ picture. I was about to ask you how fast you lost the weight, but then I bothered to read your entire ‘about me’ page, and answered the question myself. Did you really use weight-watchers, or was that just a little sardonic humor?

          (and everyone rolls their eyes at skinny people complaining about weight or exercise, except people who have ALWAYS been skinny, lol)

          Like

  2. lizhawksworth June 4, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    I love this response, and you’re right – from a business standpoint, it can really go either way. I’ll be sharing this as an excellent response to my post. Thanks for writing it and linking back! I don’t find your comments at all out of line or unpopular. It’s just a different way of looking at it. Though, I am glad we agree the guy’s a douche 😛

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos June 4, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      Oh, douchbag hands-down.

      A&F has been around long enough that unless he fell out of the stupid tree yesterday and landed behind the A&F CEO desk, he knows proper business behavior, how to spin PR, and the best way to avoid appearing as a total jerk-off to the general public.

      He didn’t even try to make it sound nice, and for that alone, he’s a dick.

      Like

    • KraftedKhaos June 4, 2013 at 10:11 am #

      Oh, and thanks for taking my response in the spirit it was given! And I always try to link to the posts or blogs that have provided inspiration for my own stuff… only seems fair to credit the source of the spark, yanno?

      Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog! I really appreciate it!

      Like

  3. Alaina Mabaso June 4, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    I like your rehash of Jeffries’ comments. Fortunately everyone is already moving on to the next controversy o’ the week.

    I once consulted some kind of BMI chart or test – it said I was dangerously obese and should see my doctor immediately. At a size 12. Huh. I’ll take it with a grain of salt.

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos June 4, 2013 at 10:05 am #

      Thank you very much! The fact that so far, all responders have seemed to understand what I was trying to say is a relief. I was terribly concerned that I would have to bite my tongue or justify my intent to everyone. The fact that I don’t have to makes me very happy.

      And unless you’re 4’2″, I don’t think there’s any danger in being a size 12, outside of the danger that the really cute clothes you want to buy will probably sell out of your size first, LOL.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and commenting on my blog!

      Like

      • Alaina Mabaso June 4, 2013 at 11:22 am #

        If you want advice, and ignore this if you don’t, I know it’s unsolicited; quit being terribly concerned about having to bite your tongue or justify yourself after the fact. As long as what you write is factually accurate, thoughtful, honest, and does not rest on bigotry or similar inappropriate foundations, put it out there and don’t stress about what comes back. There will always be trolls and there will always be people who disagree with you. That’s fine. You can engage with them or not; they’re entitled to their opinions and you’re entitled to yours. I thought your piece was good.

        Like

        • KraftedKhaos June 4, 2013 at 11:33 am #

          Thanks. It’s an insecurity-induced habit. I’m one of those people who makes a really funny ‘in-the-moment’ joke, then ruins it by explaining that I wasn’t trying to offend anyone, I hope you know how I meant it, blah blah blah. I can’t seem to help myself.

          And I’m cool with people disagreeing because they disagree, I just get all squeamish about people disagreeing because they misunderstood what I meant to say, lol.

          I can’t promise what I write will always be factually accurate, I’m lazy, and I’ll only dig so far to search for the truth, but I’ll always write honestly, from the heart, and without any genuine malice (except for those times when I’m genuinely intending to malign, and those times are completely obvious, lol)

          Thank you 🙂

          Like

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