This has been a week of shocking contrasts for women’s body image: from the triumphant, empowering public health role model of Angelina Jolie, whose op-ed column, My Medical Choice, appeared in the New York Times on May 14th, to the marketing message snafu of Abercrombie & Fitch.
First, the Abercrombie affair: Mike Jeffries, CEO, said the following in a 2006 Salon interview that virally surfaced: “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,” identifying the “cool kids” as the company’s target market. “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely,” the CEO said.
This revelation has led to a brand erosion among Millenials this week, according to the YouGov Brand Index.
The theme of Jeffries’ remarks should not be surprising to those of us who work in marketing, retail and advertising; parents of tweens and teens; and people who read fashion magazine ads. However, it’s the words themselves, revealed in their fullness, that explicitly speak to the brand’s “exclusionary” approach and lack of respect for bodies taking shapes other than sizes Small, Medium, and Large – where a Large is a Size 10. See the Abercrombie size chart for the, um, skinny.
That’s the dark yang to Angelina’s sunshiny yin.
One of People Magazine’s 100 most beautiful people in the world, Jolie came out in one of the world’s most-read news media channels to discuss her 87% risk for breast cancer, 50% risk for ovarian cancer, carrying the BRCA1 gene, and her choice to undergo a preventive double mastectomy.
In her op-ed, this most beautiful woman in the world wrote, “I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”
Health Populi’s Hot Points: Greg Karber has launched a viral campaign for A&F buyers to donate their clothes to the homeless. Take that, Mr. Jeffries! The campaign #FitchtheHomeless has gone vital.
Here’s Greg’s video for the campaign:
A few other excellent media stories include the following:
Abercrombie CEO Tries to Stem Backlash, Los Angeles Times
Too Big to Shop, CBS Philly
Abercrombie & Fitch’s Reputation Takes a Hit, Huffington Post
Kirstie Alley Slams Abercrombie, Christian Science Monitor