Thursday, May 9, 2013

This isn't right. Had to write a different sort of letter. Feel free to write your own.

Dear Mike Jeffries,

My name is Sarah Bertrand, and I am a 29 year old clothes wearer who recently came across a meme being passed around on the internet that I'm sure you're aware of. Since I haven't heard your name in quite some time (maybe you're big in the States?) I decided to research said meme because I didn't want to react to something if it was unfounded. Alas, the outrageous interview 'tis true. 

Allow me to describe the meme. It has an unflattering picture of you, and this quote from an interview you gave in 2006, that stated:  "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. 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.”

It is odd that it took seven years for this to come to light, but I'm glad that it eventually did. You see Mike, in this day and age, it's more important than ever to encourage equality, and not ostracize people who are just being themselves. People are being bullied for being different, being plus sized, having no friends, being gay, not having money, and a wide variety of other unacceptable reasons. People are killing themselves because they feel inadequate. There are so many wonderful companies out there, proactively campaigning to show these same people that they are significant, that things will get better, and that they are good enough. Instead, whether or not it was your intention, you have branded Abercrombie, as a whole, as elitist snobs who could care less about you unless you have money, and lack morals. This means all of the staff, as well. In head office, and at store level. I wonder what these people think about what you've stated as your sole demographic and values, but moreso than that, I wonder if they care. Because I know if I had any position of clout whatsoever, I would make damn sure I wouldn't use that power to exclude an enormous demographic of people. Or to make anyone ever question their worth, or if they "deserve" to buy my brand. My family would be so disappointed in me if I chose to do so, and that would be nothing in comparison to the disgust I would feel towards myself.
You literally describe yourself as "exclusionary". It's shocking. I mean, I've always respected honesty in people, but against all rationale, you describe your entire company as exclusionary. Like it's some sort of elementary school club. No plus sized people allowed! Ew, people with no friends have cooties! Shop at the Gap! Guess what else I found out in my research? Abercrombie doesn't have XL or XXL women's clothing. However, it does have XL and XXL men's sizes, but only for football players and wrestlers. I know that it was your decision and obviously you're aware of this, but I was kinda hoping when you had it written infront of you, you would see how asinine it really was. Maybe read it outloud. How does it sound? Out of all the extra and extra extra large women in the world, you would rather them shop elsewhere so you could save fabric for the wrestlers and football players? You have made yourselves, and your brand, into a joke. This is not the set of the hit 90's sitcom, Saved By The Bell, Mike. People aren't just wrestlers and football players anymore. Sure, some are. But designating two sizes to people who participate in two very specific sports? Thanks for the suggestion! Maybe I'll just sit at home, constructing clothes for myself out of an old afghan, and pine away at ads for Abercrombie. I'll have to make sure I have good lighting, so I don't get the flyers mixed up. Because Abercrombie looks exactly like so many other brands (Aeropostale, Hollister, American Eagle, American Apparel, and literally anything sold at Urban Outfitters), sometimes it's hard to tell. 
Your decision to be vocal about your obnoxious, vile wish for a brand that spews putrid perfume out of their unreasonably dark cliche stores, more than anything else, is so disappointing. I can only assume that your statements were as a result of projection from your childhood, and I really hope that you deal with it in a more healthy, fair manner.  
As I said in the beginning, I'm glad that I'm now aware of what your company stands for. Before I avoided wearing the clothes because I just thought they were unattractive and overpriced, with very typical and vapid advertising. Now that I'm fully informed, I can take an adamant stance because I would never, ever stoop to promote and support ANYTHING that ever ostracized or demeaned any demographic of people. Mike, you should genuinely, and whole-heartedly be ashamed of yourself. I'm sure you've received many letters and emails saying the same thing, and I've read some of the open letters. I'm not even going to get into how I don't fit the specifically outlined expectation you've set forth for your customers, because that's irrelevant. I hope nobody feels like they fit that demographic. And if this letter falls in deaf ears, I hope there's one that really catches your attention, and you feel it in the pit of your stomach, and it makes your heart physically ache. I hope you experience every physical feeling that any child, teen, or adult who's ever been bullied, felt desolate, insufficient, and sad, and I hope that you use that to right these wrongs.
Sarah Bertrand 

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