Lately, it seems as though people just aren’t happy unless they are making themselves unhappy about something. We are all in a rush to be offended, a race to have our feelings hurt. I’ve written about this before (Of Porcupines and Ducks) and now it seems that the Hurt Feelings Brigade is on the rampage again.
The newest Bad Guy on the radar is Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, who famously announced that his company does not carry plus-size clothes because he wants his clothing to appeal to “thin and attractive” customers. This has created an uproar that has led to boycotts, nasty comments about Jeffries’ lack of physical appeal, a petition on Change.Org, and even an ABC News investigation.
Folks. Please. Deep breaths, everybody.
In a nation where over 60% of the population is considered to be “overweight”, Jeffries is only hurting himself. Yes, it makes his product seem that much more exclusive and special, but it also limits his potential customer base. By eliminating more than half of all Americans as potential customers, he is also eliminating a lot of potential business.
I have to be honest. I have spent most of my life unable to shop in many, many stores because I have always been overweight. Even in high school, when I wore a size 14, I couldn’t find jeans at the “cool” stores. I couldn’t wear Calvin Kleins like the other girls; Gloria Vanderbilts were never meant to be worn by women with butts like mine.
Size discrimination is nothing new. I remember shopping for wedding dresses and being told that I would have to pay a non-refundable 50% deposit in order to get a dress in my size shipped to the store just to try it on. All others in-stock were a size 6 and I was free to hold them up in front of myself and visualize. And Maternity clothes? During my pregnancies, I had to shop specialty catalogs because most clothing stores believed that “Plus-Size Maternity” ranges from size 12 to size 16.
The message: Fat Girls don’t get married and they don’t have babies.
I also remember shopping at the local JCPenneys, where the plus size department was tucked away upstairs, behind the Kitchen Department and Photo Studio. Fitting rooms were downstairs, at the opposite end of the store. I’m not sure if they thought the Big Gals could use the exercise or if they worried that our size was contagious. But God forbid we mingle with the Skinnies.
I have walked into stores and been told “I’m sure we won’t have anything in your size here” or “Perhaps you’d be happier shopping at the Lane Bryant Store at the other end of the mall”.
It happens, people. And it’s been happening for years.
Where’s the rebellion against 5-7-9 stores? They don’t carry plus-sizes. Why is there no petition against them? What about Victoria’s Secret? Don’t they realize that BBW’s (Big Beautiful Women) want to feel sexy too? Hey, the DD-cups could use a little lift, too! Probably more so than the A-cups, but I digress.
I’m not defending Jeffries. I find his behavior and his comments reprehensible. But I want to know why everyone is up in arms over Abercrombie when other retailers have been doing the exact same thing for years. Why has he been singled out?
I think it is partially because he actually voiced his idiotic opinions and policies, while other retailers keep their mouths shut and pretend that it isn’t going on. But I also believe that the problem stems from where he drew the line.
Statistics show that the average American woman wears a size 14, which is where “Plus-size” begins and “normal-size” ends. It has been perfectly acceptable for women at this size and up to face discrimination at most clothing stores. But Jeffries and Abercrombie have lowered that line to a size 10, with their focus primarily on the size zeroes.
Now it’s okay to protest?
What’s next – a protest against Lane Bryant for size discrimination against skinny people? Here’s an idea for all of the people who fall between Abercrombie’s maximum size 10 and Lane Bryant’s minimum size 14: They should band together and bring lawsuits against both manufacturers for size discrimination. Start a revolution for the Mid-Size People of America.
Or we could all just voice our displeasure the old fashioned way: with our wallets. If you don’t like what a company has to offer, don’t shop there. If you don’t agree with a retailer’s philosophy, don’t give them your money.
Pretty simple. Seems more effective to me than continuing to give them free publicity with all of the protests and howls of indignation.