Mike Jeffries, the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch is in the news for something that he said in 2006, about his target audience. But before I read his quote, let me look at my calendar to see that it is 2013 right now. These quotes of his in Salon Magazine 7 years ago, have resurfaced this week and it has a lot of people in a snit about it.
This is the quote that has stirred up the bee nest again, from 2006:
""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," the clothing retailer explained. "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."
I read this once as how I would see it, and then I paused. Then I read it as if I was an overweight woman who was the fat girl in school. I thought about it, and then I realized that absolutely nothing Jeffries says here is inaccurate.
It IS true that in every school, there are the cool kids and the not so cool crowd. Good marketing sense means that every clothing and fashion company out there wants a piece of that market. Does ANY company market to the not so cool, overweight and excluded crowd? HELL NO. They'd be out of business before they even started. People with great attitudes attract others with great attitudes. The people who don't feel like they belong? Guess what, they feel that way, and it ends up showing up. Do YOU want to hang around people like that? God, we're surrounded by people like that at work everyday, do we take time to see why they're hurting? No, we treat them exactly like dirt, and so why are we surprised when our kids do the same at school. They learn it from us!
I don't care if Abercrombie and Fitch doesn't carry a size over 10. If you can't fit into their clothes, I guess you can't wear them. Is it exclusionary to do this? Sure, but that's what target marketing is. There are companies that only target people who make over 60K a year, why is it that nobody targets THEM as being exclusionary?
Because we are talking about being overweight, and THAT is the real issue here.
I don't know why being over or under weight is such an issue with people, I really don't. For my entire youth, I was teased for being so skinny. I really couldn't gain any weight. I know, it sounds like the perfect problem to most of us now, but I assure you that nobody wanted to be with the skinny kid in class. I actually envied the fat people in class. To me, it was much easier for them to lose weight than it was for me to gain it.
But the judgement that goes with being overweight is the issue here.
The point these plus sized people are missing is that it isn't Mike Jeffries that you're pissed off with. You really don't give a shit what this man thinks. It's the message that he's conveying that he doesn't want fat people in his clothes that hurts you. And if you are overweight (like I am as I write this...) it just adds another judgement to our already existing world of hurt which is the reason WHY we are over weight. We are over weight because we work at it. We make the poor choice to be over weight because of our own lack of will power. For what ever reason, and we all have a million reasons why we are over weight, we push it on every one else who doesn't accept us, because we don't accept ourselves first! We really can't stand ourselves for being over weight. We stare at ourselves in the mirror and torture ourselves about this, we really do.
It takes work to have a great body. You have to eat properly, exercise and maintain all of this. You have to plan, and execute your plan just to maintain. Those of us who don't spend time or effort doing this, don't get to be thin or in good shape, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.
If you think the world is against you for being over weight, try again. The world doesn't care what size you are. Do you know who cares the most what size you are? YOU DO!! We care so much that our heads never stop thinking about it, the judgement we face, the articles that are written about it, or the models who don't look like us. We make up silly statements about good looking people like, "They're shallow, they have no personality, all they have is their looks" How do I know this? Because I've been doing it for years. Even when I was in really great shape, I said it. I said it about the people who were in better shape than I was, and they said it to the people who were in better shape than they were in. It just never stops.
If we want it to stop, it has to stop with us, not with Steve Jeffries. I promise you that if you were ok with Steve Jeffries comments, that you really are comfortable with your weight. If you aren't, it just triggered you because yet another person judged you about being over weight, and it hurts you because you don't want to be over weight.
And the sad thing is, the more we attack Jeffries and defend the over weight kids in school, the more we justify that it's ok to be over weight and unhealthy.
And it's NOT.
We're not teaching our kids enough about healthy eating, and North Americans are the most over weight people in the world. Healthy kids live healthier lives, and over or under weight kids get picked on and teased. When you are a young kid, you don't have the confidence to defend these attacks and it just makes it worse. I was teased relentlessly as a kid for not being the cool kid in class, and I can tell you that it really hurt. It's taken me years of learning to get to a place of forgiveness and understand why. But I can tell you that it is in our human nature to do this, and it won't ever stop.
So if you can search inside yourself and ask some deep questions about why it is that you chose to be over weight and if you can be honest, you will have a new view of treating yourself with more kindness than you have in the past. If you want to blame Mike Jeffries that he is mean for excluding plus sized people from his clothes, you can do so.
Just know that it will be easier to control your own thoughts and actions, and that people like Mike Jeffries are a dime a dozen and aren't going away any time soon.
It's your choice.