Monday, June 3, 2013

My Response to Mark Jeffries

Abercrombie and Fitch or, more precisely its CEO Mark Jefferies has come under quite a lot of fire lately for comments made regarding overweight or obese clientele and employees. I’m not the first blogger to respond to said comments.  In fact, I’m kind of late on the train.  I debated writing anything at all for quite a while for a very simple reason; I try not to blog about political/societal issues.  I deal with that a lot in my “real life.”  When I write, when I become K.A. DaVur, I don’t want to deal with those issues.  I want to live in made up worlds helping made up people face made up problems.  I want to put on fun make up and clothes and have a good time.  If I can teach some good lessons to kids along the way, all the better.  But really, I’m just generally not interested in my two words becoming quite so enmeshed.  This issue keeps tickling the back of my mind, though.  I keep feeling the need that this is something I need to say.  So, I will.  What I have to say, what keeps pounding away as a refrain inside my subconscious is this: shame on Mark Jefferies us. 
Abercrombie and Fitch is a shamelessly elitist company that panders to all things shallow and wrong; vanity, consumerism, and hyper sexuality to name a few.  But then, we knew this, didn’t we?  Abercrombie and Fitch T-Shirts currently cost an average of $30 online.  The average annual wage is currently $26,364.  That means a T-Shirt costs the average person 5.9% of their weekly GROSS paycheck.  But people who can afford to pay so much for a piece of thin cotton, and even people who cannot afford it, are doing so because somehow to do so makes you “cool.”  The exclusivist mindset works.  Overpaying to wear someone else’s name on your person is somehow desirable.  So, shame on Mark Jefferies us. 
That’s just what is on the surface.  Dig a little deeper and there’s more. We can’t forget Abercrombie and Fitch’s hypersexual marketing campaign geared towards minors through their store Abercrombie.  In 2002, Abercrombie unveiled a line of thongs for the prepubescent young women who would be shopping in their store.  If that wasn’t horrifying enough, the underclothing was emblazoned with such items as cherries and such phrases as “wink wink” and “eye candy.”  Years later, they released their “Jailbait” line of clothing.  Additionally, have you ever tried to complain to Abercrombie and Fitch about the obviously underage mostly naked models they have making out in their giant posters in their stores?  Because I have.  When I could actually see the crease where the shaft of the penis began in a window display across the walk from a stuffed animal store, I complained to management.  They were obviously, condescendingly unconcerned.  The internet is peppered with numerous such stories, to the point that I think we can all assume that there is some tacit, if not meticulously explained, company policy of not dealing with such complaints.  Yet, there are such stores in every mall, and the photos are not becoming less racy.  Somehow, this is allowed.  Somehow, this sells.  So shame on Mark Jeffries us. 
But wait, there’s more!  In 2005, Abercrombie and Fitch settled a lawsuit to the tune of more than $50 million to Hispanic, Asian and African American employees who were able to substantiate claims that they were not allowed as part of the sales team, but were instead relegated to stock rooms.  That’s right; if your skin was pigmented brown as opposed to airbrush tan brown, you were not allowed to be a visible part of the Abercrombie team.  That has apparently changed, as there currently an ethnic model on their website, but the fact that they were taken to court by hundreds of employees and chose to settle is incredibly telling.  However, the racism doesn’t stop there.  Hollister, offspring child of Abercrombie and Fitch, sent some models to South Korea as part of a promotional event.  Tweets sent by the models included the representatives squinting their eyes and writing phonetic mockeries of Asian accents. Of course, what do you expect from a company who thought T-shirts featuring caricaturized Chinese individuals with such catchy slogans as “Rick Shaw’s Hoagies” or “Wang’s Laundry Services?”   Yet, Abercrombie refers to itself as “Authentic American Apparel.”  What does that say?  What does that imply?  Shame on Mark Jefferies us. 
So, we have a company that has shown itself to be sizeist, sexist, elitist, and racist, not to mention well, pervy and gross.  If an individual acted as such he or she would be universally panned and disdained, and rightfully so.  Yet, this company continues to thrive.  Speaking of gross, do you want to know what Abercrombie and Fitch grossed last year?  $2.81 Billion dollars.  Two. Point. Eight. Billion. Freaking. Dollars.  Do you know what that means?  That it’s okay to be racist, sizeist, sexist, elitist, and to promote inappropriate underage sexual activity while forcing parents to either avoid the mall or expose their children to inappropriate images, as long as you are cool.  Those sorts of numbers mean that we, as a society, have bought into it.  That shows that we support that mindset.  Not only do we think its okay, but it is somehow desirable.  So for shame.  Shame on Mark Jeffries us. 

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