So let’s talk about Mark Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch and his “controversial” statements.  Check out the link to Elite Daily if you need the back story.

As someone who’s been bigger than her peers her whole life—I have to say kudos to Abercrombie CEO Mark Jeffries for finally admitting what I feel like I’ve known all along.  (Note: That’s not to say this guy is not a total jerk because he is–how dare correlate how “cool” or “beautiful” someone is with their clothing size–but this is the world we live in.)

Let’s tackle the hardest part of this for me first: No teenager should ever be pressured to shop in a store that calls their sales associates “models” surrounded by billboard sized ads of topless models laying on each other to show off the…jeans?  Seriously?  The brand is marketed at college kids but worn by tweens for God’s sake—and all I have to say is WTF? What parent said “Yes, this is acceptable.  Please let me bring my 13 year old in here to buy your overpriced polos and stanky overbearing cologne”.

Now back to the issue of Jeffries truthful and hurtful statement (please note his words are only hurtful if you give them power).  I can understand why people are upset—however, is it any different than clothing companies making clothes two sizes smaller than the tag says?  And a lot of clothing lines only go up to an XL.  Aren’t they saying that they are excluding their bigger clients?  I’m sorry but the statement he made seemed to me to be a given.  They don’t make XL, obviously they don’t want anyone considered XL to shop there.  If A & F wasn’t their own “store” but just another brand carried by big department store would this even be news?  Or is it news because the CEO is a blatantly obnoxious toolbag?

If I like a dress and the XL is just a smidge too tight, and they don’t make the same style in their plus size line isn’t that saying something about excluding me? My choice as an adult is to get it, feel squished, maybe look like an overstuffed sausage or don’t buy it at all.  Why is it so hard to teach our kids that they can’t always get what they want? Life isn’t always fair but that’s how it is. We now live in a world where everything has to be fair and everyone has to be accepting (which is why people are so pissed) but that is simply not REAL LIFE.

To the teenage girl who can’t shop there because you need an XL—you have two choices—squeeze yourself into a L (which as a teacher I saw one too many times) or you choose something ELSE—something better.

Yes, I get that it’s a blow to a teenager’s self-esteem but in today’s world what isn’t?  We’ve created a world so convinced that size zero is the definition of healthy and attractive. We glorify ridiculously thin models and beefy chiseled actors and tell our kids over and over again that this is what’s beautiful, sexy and desirable.  When we stop doing that…we will stop this insane cycle of body image issues that we are experiencing as a nation.  I hope that aside from the bitching and complaining, people will remember to tell the kids that don’t meet A & F’s standard of “beautiful” and “cool”—that they are awesome. That they don’t need a clothing company to tell them so.  That they should own who they are and rock it.

Life isn’t easy for anyone that’s different.  Whether you’re an XL who can’t shop at A & F, a kid who didn’t make the basketball team, or an over-acheiver teacher’s pet–LIFE IS HARD.  Life isn’t easy for any “adult” (aka the well-rounded collegiate they are supposedly marketing to) overworked, underpaid, swamped with school, trying to navigate life as an “adult”.  Let’s not even discuss experimentation with alcohol, drugs, and sex.  LIFE IS HARD—everyone feels like they are a HOT MESS sometimes—we can’t keep trying to close the gap so that no one ever gets their feelings hurt—trials, tribulations and struggles are what make people GREAT.

Stop buying their clothing to make a statement about their overtly shallow CEO—but in the long run does it make much of a difference?  Based on my past few years in the public school system, A & F is losing it’s chokehold on the “cool kids” anyway.  Kids are starting to understand that being different is okay.  Being a hipster and offbeat is an “in” thing.  Many more “cool kids” are wearing thrift shop finds and creating their own style–they are breaking away from the A & F “fold”.  And thank God for that.  Kids can be nasty, cruel bullies—but with this new wave of “individualism” I am thinking it may become less about the clothing labels.

Mark Jeffries needs to take a good hard look at the monster in the mirror (check out a pic of him to see what I did there)–at the very least, kudos to you, Mr. Jeffries, you’ve unsettled a lot of people with your statements but have opened up a much needed dialogue about the American definition of beauty and self-worth.

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