Remember when Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries said he didn’t want larger people wearing his company’s clothing? Sure you do! It was basically because they weren’t cool enough and he was worried it might bring down the brand. Turns out that he doesn’t want employees wearing large clothing, either. A former female employee at Abercombie and Fitch writes in Salon:
My fascination with the politics of clothing size began in 2004 when I worked at A&F corporate as a merchant in their outerwear division. Employees were expected to dress “on brand” at work, which meant always wearing A&F clothes from the current season. I squeezed myself into the second-largest A&F women’s size available — an 8 — and dieted to stay that size. It terrified me to know that if I gained weight and sized out of their women’s clothes, I’d have to wear ill-fitting men’s T-shirts and sweatshirts to work every day, as I’d seen other “large” women do.
A job where you have to diet to wear your work uniform seems… pretty awful. Especially when that is a low paying retail job, and not a very high paying job where you have to wear something stupid (I used to have to wear a sexy pirate outfit, but it paid really well). The writer also goes on to note that:
According to data collected 2007-2010 by the CDC, the average waist measurement of a 19-year-old woman is 33.6 inches. The largest women’s size is a “Large” or “12” (not a 10, as has been incorrectly claimed pretty much everywhere). The waist measurement of this size is 31 inches. In other words, the average 19-year-old girl is too fat to shop at A&F.
Running a clothing brand that most people in their early 20’s cannot shop at just seems spectacularly dumb. It’s a bit like the scene in Mean Girls where a clothing store only sells clothes that come in in a 1, 3, or 5 except it is real life.
Picture via Abercrombie and Fitch