I have been doing a lot of thinking in the last week since the comments made by the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, Mike Jeffries, have come out and people in almost every main social media and networking website have been speaking out. (I personally like the comments in this one)
Some of Jeffries comments include:
“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.”
“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.”
I have mixed feelings concerning this news story. Let me explain my feelings, personal they are in nature, regarding this matter.
First, I want to say that I think Jeffries is, to put it mildly, a complete jerk. I think his comments are ridiculous. I don’t agree with his statements and his position and the company’s marketing strategies. But, I think enough people have spoken out on this for me to say that I mirror a lot of the comments speaking out against Jeffries and A&F.
Second, I do have to say that as CEO of A&F, he has the right to target whoever he wants to for selling his product. If he wants to be a tool, he can be. If he wants to exclude certain people from buying his clothes, he can certainly do so. Sadly, there isn’t much we can do about this. We can’t change his mind. We can’t make Jeffries soften his heart and make larger clothing sizes or make him target all people, not just those who are physically beautiful. But there is something we can do about this. We can change how we choose to respond and how we let this effect us as individuals.
Some may feel that if they don’t fit into the sizes offered at Abercrombie, then they fall into the category of ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’ or ‘unpopular’. But how do any of those three words have any real connection to a brand of clothing or a particular clothing store? How can clothing make us be fat or ugly or unpopular? I think we need to choose to rise above this, above letting something so silly and so trivial as a brand of clothing make us question our personal worth and value. We need to realize that not fitting into a pair of jeans does not mean we are fat or are not good enough. The sad thing is that comments made by Jeffries have the ability to so largely and negatively impact youths and how they perceive themselves. A&F’s “target audience” is young and impressionable and hearing words like those spoken by Jeffries can cause lasting damage and leave a lasting imprint that can forever change one’s mind and attitude about their self-worth.
I think the change needs to take place within ourselves. Since when do we always need to be hard on ourselves, critical of every imagined negative characteristic about ourselves. More often than not, these negative things we focus on about ourselves pertain to our bodies and our weight. Why is this? Why can’t we just choose to be comfortable with ourselves, with who we are? People can make thoughtless, stupid remarks, we can see skinny women with perfect abs on the covers of magazines, we can read about the latest diet that will guarantee weight loss, yet why do we have to give it more focus than it needs? Why do we let ourselves become so obsessed with these things? Because we haven’t taken the time to find the reasons why we are simply okay the way we are. Yep, you read that right. We are okay, as we are. We don’t have to always try and change ourselves.
I pass by magazines on display at the grocery store while waiting in line, and instead of looking at those women with the perfect abs, perfect toned legs and arms and want to have that for myself, think of ways that I can reach that ideal body, I now look at it and think to myself ‘that is simply not who I am and that is OK’. I also think that I’m glad I’m free of feeling the need to be that way. For so long that is all that I could ever focus on and think of, being skinny and toned was all that mattered. Now I have more to live for, more to focus on.
We need to learn to change the way we think about ourselves. We need to learn to see our worth aside from our weight, our size, our bodies. We also can’t let ourselves fall into categories or be assigned labels such as ‘fat’ or ‘unpopular’. The change, though, must start with ourselves. We need to place a higher sense of worth on ourselves, see our inner qualities and characteristics, our talents and abilities as what we use to identify our worth. And we need to learn to be accepting of ourselves and not always feel like we need to change ourselves in order to be found acceptable and worthy.
So, I read Jeffries comments, I hear people talking about it on the radio, read people’s comments and thoughts on what he said, etc. etc. and instead of focusing on the negative that can come out of this situation, I chose to let it define my prorgress in recovery. For so long, I felt that my worth was defined by something so stupid and foolish as what style clothes I could wear, what size clothes I would fit into, and how my body looks. Yet now I realize all of those things are so immaterial. And not just immaterial, but fleeting. In the grand scheme of things, does it REALLY matter if I fit into a certain clothing size or if I’m able to shop at a certain store? No. Let’s keep our focus on what really matters in life…living…and being happy and thankful for what we have, instead of focusing on all the things we wish were different, wish we had, or what we want to change.
Today, I am thankful for not letting myself be defined by my body, but finding my inner peace and happiness; for defining my self-worth for myself and not based upon society’s standards.