|An Open Letter to Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries: Fattie Hater
By: Shawn Paul Wood
Dear Mr. Jeffries,
You seem to be a
douchebag...eh, man of conviction. Someone who stands on his laurels...and everyone else's. A man who obviously doesn't live in a glass house, because if you did, passers-by would be convinced they were staring at Joan Rivers with some sort of terrible allergic reaction. Speaking of glass, have you bothered to look in a mirror? You know, one of the thousand that are fogged with that olfactory-deadening waft of strip club, daddy's money, and body dysmorphia in your stores? I understand being a bully because I've opened a fresh can of whoop @$$ on some in my time. And you, sir, are just that. Allow me to explain:
Abercrombie & Fitch is your wonderland. A place where you feel like one of the ubiquitous "cool kids" you seem to adore and target in your airbrushed world of advertising. A place where the music is so loud, a patron has to shout for directions to the dressing room. A place where the customer service is about as absent as a bag of fast-food fries and a Coke in one of your break rooms. And, according to an interview that has taken seven years to become viral for some moronic reason, a place where fatties are not welcome. Any CEO who espouses this kind of elitist and exclusive vitriol is either convinced that this kind of publicity is exactly what your customers want, or you prefer the way Kim Kardashian looks now. Here's the quote that has you in Jenny Craig's crosshairs:
Michael, if I may call you that, you are a 68-year-old man with enough botulism injections in your face to make people think you just have really open pores. I understand your need to find your target audience and sell directly to them. That's Marketing 101. I can only imagine this is why the sizes in your store for my daughter range from small, X-small, anorexic, and malnourished to Somalian refugee. However, with the aforementioned quote, you are really making life difficult for your PR people. It's bad enough that they constantly have to defend how your clothes, arguably manufactured from a pre-teen sweatshop employee in Indonesia for $2.50, are sold for $60. However, now your PR team is considering unemployment because of this latest attack on the girls you obviously couldn't get dates from in school.
“It’s [sex appeal] 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...”
...“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."
You see, this is the work of a bully. Be it glandular, genetic, or the Snickers hidden in their purses, some big girls would love to shop in your store. I suppose they think your clothing is cool, but your hatred for the lady of heft is screaming of pre-pubescent angst. Did you ask a size-12 girl to the prom and she turned you down? Is that why you choose to relive your life through your "skinnies-only" fashion collection? Being a polished PR professional, I understand — and acknowledge — that you believe this round of publicity is actually perfect for your brand because the people you want to attract to your stores feel even more exclusive and kick-ass because of your comments. I get it. It's still not okay.
Even your leading competitors agree. H&M and American Eagle offer up to sizes 16 and 18, respectively. They understand that today's worldly woman has it backwards. Typically, she has fake boobs, a face lift, and Botox; yet, still ponders if there are any real men out there. This is a farce, and only makes the cruel world even more difficult for a teenage girl who happens to not fit in a size 4 jean ensemble. You may think this is fine, but trust me, it's not. You are the reason heinous comments like "She's beautiful for a big woman" exist. You are also a reason there is an online petition from Benjamin O'Keefe against your anti-plus-size stance.
If unemployment wasn't such a travesty for millions of people already, I would wish your stores all close immediately. But people need jobs — even those whose Daddy won't give them the keys to his Bentley coupe. So, I'll consider your appetite in my prayers. That it becomes so overwhelming, you have to put the pizza delivery guy on speed dial. I want you to want to eat so much that Asian buffet restaurants lock their doors at the first sniff of your cheap cologne coming. Then you will gain enough weight that your own employees will do more double takes than they already do at your lovely mug. Maybe without a (surgically enhanced) washboard stomach, you will begin to feel like the millions of kids you choose to point your prickly finger at in disgust — abnormal. You think they enjoy being overweight? Not really. Does it help that you ostracize them and make them the target of your juvenile angst? Not at all.
Furthermore, attacking you for what you have done to your face does contradict the premise that being ugly isn't something for which a person should be discriminated against. You do that daily. I'm doing it now, and I shouldn't. Sorry about that. Your quote just brings out the "Suck it" mentality in me. I do have one question for you however, Michael. "Is this your address where people reading this rant can reach you?"
Thanks for your time, as these will be last minutes I ever give you or your brand.
CEO | Abercrombie and Fitch
6301 Fitch Path
New Albany, Ohio 43054
Shawn Paul Wood
Shawn Paul Wood
is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here
or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood