In the past, Abercrombie and Fitch has come under fire for profiting off of the sexualization of youth. And on the issue of race, Abercrombie’s past is extraordinarily ugly. Not only does it promote Aryan standards of beauty to sell its products, prior to facing a lawsuit, its hiring practices blatantly reflected racism as well. Minority job candidates were not hired or forced into the back, pushed out of sight to promote the company’s ideal image of what’s cool and beautiful.
And now the company is coming under fire for not selling XL and XXL sizes of women’s clothing. For A&F, to be cool and good looking, women need to be thin. This is both amazingly irresponsible and idiotic, even more so because of the overt sexism of offering these sizes in men’s clothing. So white, thin, and sexually active: this is the “All-American kid” Abercrombie holds up as an idol and wants all others to envy and emulate (if possible). It’s an extremely un-American ideal for the 21st century, more aligned with the repugnant values of the early 20th century.
This manufacturing of beauty for profit is precisely what Robert addressed yesterday, and his solution, though quite radical, is the only real answer. The solution is not to encourage the objectification of more women or attack CEO Mike Jeffries as uncool or unattractive. The only answer is to treat other people as persons, not objects. When I first heard about this, I found this suggestion startling, as it challenged some culturally-inherited beliefs that I hadn’t seriously questioned. But after really considering it, I couldn’t find a truly legitimate defense of objective beauty, or really any reason to hang on to my own subjective standards. And these standards had just sort of fallen away organically by that point anyway.
It doesn’t matter whether you meet Abercrombie’s ideal or are the polar opposite, it’s time to leave this prejudice behind. And it’s time to leave Abercrombie behind. Neither will have a place in my life. I encourage you to join me.