Everyone has been buzzing and bloviating about comments recently made by Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries regarding his products, or more specifically, who ought to be wearing them; who they’re intended for. I don’t know what the exact language was, but, I really don’t care, and I’ll get to that in a moment. The story is making waves because he doesn’t want A&F to include plus sizes. He simply doesn’t want fat kids wearing his product…he’d rather see them PURCHASING his product for others. At first, the story was that A&F products were/are intended for “cool people”, and a week later, the message changed to how the ravishing, suave CEO (HOORAY FOR SARCASM!) doesn’t want “ugly people” to be seen wearing anything from an A&F store. But again, I suppose he’d got no issues with such people buying his products, huh?
The BBW/FA community is up in arms over this, and I want to say “rightfully so”, but, why would I? Because I’ll tell ya what, folks, I’ve not seen a single cool person in an Abercrombie & Fitch shirt since I first noticed the brand in 1999…right after Stussy was out of style, and Panama Jack before that, and BUM, and the list of ‘fashion flavor of the month’ goes on and on. I think Billabong is still around, because America will never be short of stupid teenagers who think they’re sticking it to their parents and their teachers by wearing a shirt that says “bong” on it. Wearing A&F clothing doesn’t make anyone attractive, either, because believe it or not, thin people can be hard on the eyes, too (just look at Mike Jeffries and his surgically enhanced smile), in which case, a paper bag would probably provide a better service than an A&F shirt.
Anyway, clothing lines like this tend to be popular among folks who lack individuality, so the only way they can express themselves and get attention is by joining in on whatever the hottest trends are. This tends to involve buying clothing that looks about identical to anything sold at Target or Walmart, and buying it at 2-3 times the price because it has a certain name on it. Having said that, Mr. Jeffries should probably shut down A&F and retire now, because being trendy doesn’t make anyone cool or attractive.
Still, the backlash from the BBW world has been pretty strong…strong to the point that even Melissa McCarthy is getting involved despite passing on being a role model for fat women a year or two ago (I believe she said that she’d be cool with waking up one morning and finding that she’s completely emaciated).
This fat girl rage is not going to convince A&F to start a plus size line.
Now, before any of you ladies try to tell me that I don’t know what it’s like to be shunned or made to feel like an outsider or an unwelcome guest, hear me out. I know what it was like to be the fat kid in school. I also know what it was like to come from a blue collar family and live in a white collar neighborhood, and I also know what it was like to have to defend myself against mobs of bullies because a certain faith was practiced in my household. And yeah, I also know what it’s like to be shunned by my own peers, because we got too many people in the BBW world who will crucify anyone who doesn’t placate to their desires or share in their beliefs (where’d the “acceptance” in size acceptance go?). Guess what, folks…the same oppressors who worked hard to make us feel small, ugly, and insignificant because we were mentally or physically different ARE USUALLY THE SAME TRENDY, PRETENTIOUS DOUCHEBAGS WHO SHOP AT ABERCROMBIE & FITCH. Why on earth would you ever want to join in with a lot like that?
If you’re gonna rage about fashion designers who slam doors in your faces, then call the people at Torrid and give them an earful. YOU are their target market, yet they still insist that their hottest items should only be made up to a certain size. That means that we have a fat women’s clothing store that doesn’t want fat women shopping there, and you’re all torn up over Abercrombie & Fitch???
When I was about 12 or 13, a local magician (or illusionist…whatever the PC term is now) came to my school to do a show called Dare to Be Different, Dare to Be Great. It was a performance in which magic tricks and motivational speaking came together to encourage children to pay more attention to their dreams and ambitions as opposed to whatever the popular kids were doing, whether it was drugs, smoking, or buying overpriced clothing at stores like Abercrombie & Fitch. He said the words between every segment of his lecture: dare to be different, dare to be great. He achieved his goal, because his words stuck with me, and twenty years later, I still think back to them whenever it comes to something like wearing a kilt or speaking out against popular ideals or behaviors.
Oh, and there’s nothing different or great about being an Abercrombie & Fitch customer.
Three months ago, 45 people congregated in Buffalo and dared to be different and dared to be great. We had a fun-filled evening at a Buffalo BBW dance party that was thrown together in less than two weeks for the sake of a VH1 documentary, and a few close friends joined Jess and myself in sharing our thoughts about the BBW world and how friends, relatives, and total strangers receive us. We talked about what we love about this community, what we hate about it, and worked closely with our producers to promote the idea that love and respect do not have weight limits. Jess wasn’t thrilled with the project, but I thought it was a move that needed to be made and it couldn’t have been done without her. It’s a move that needed to be made because I think it’s time for more of us to come forward. Mike Jeffries’ comments should be enough to inspire our subculture to speak up and tell/show him just how wrong he is when he says that fat people are uncool and undesirable. With that said, I’m glad our episode airs tomorrow night.
The time for preaching amongst each other ended years ago…it’s now time for us to be more vocal about who we are. We will be ill-received by some. In fact, we’ll even be ill-received by some of our own, because there’s always someone who wants to fold their arms and say “he doesn’t speak for ME”. And they would be right, because I DON’T speak for them. I speak for myself, and I prefer to be heard by the next generation of fat girls and admirers who don’t yet believe that they’re not freaks of nature that belong in cages for the amusement of A&F customers. I speak because I want the new blood to be inspired the way I was when people from our subculture appeared on TV in the early 90s, and yes, I also speak because I would like to publish a book about the thoughts and experiences I walked away with when I disappeared from the subculture’s watchful eyes in 2009, and I also want to see a reality show that shares the BBW/FA subculture in hopes that it will garnish more respect.
Accolades are appreciated, but not desired. What I desire is for people to watch this—whether they love or hate me—and realize that if we continue to stand up for ourselves and share our stories, then people like Mike Jeffries may begin to think twice about making derogatory comments about us while actresses like Melissa McCarthy might be considered for more than just ‘the fat character’ whenever a new movie or TV show does a casting call.