The Abercrombie and Fitch CEO has put me into complete shock after learning about his comment on the type of people he wants shopping at his stores. It made me realize how cruel and insensitive some people can be toward topics such as eating disorders and low-self-esteem. CEO Mike Jefferies only wants the “cool” and “attractive all-American kid” to buy his clothing. He says that Abercrombie and Fitch is exclusionary. Who doesn’t like to feel exclusive or part of the “in” or “popular” crowd?
I know I did when I was in middle and high school, but because I struggled for acceptance through my body image I wound up becoming anorexic. I started 7th grade a healthy 110 pounds but by the time I reached my freshman year I was an unhealthy size 00 weighing only 75 pounds. Some do not understand that weight is not the only thing you lose when becoming anorexic; you also lose your hair, confidence, your mind and your happiness. You also have a rotting odor and go through depression. I thought losing weight would be this wonderful experience until I was crying almost every night for reasons I couldn’t even explain, questioning why I was even still alive.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents. The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15–24 years old. Mortality can result from organ failure, heart failure, malnutrition or suicide. Sixty-nine percent of female students ranging from 5th-12th grade have reported that pictures they see in magazines strongly influence their idea of the perfect body image.
Luckily in recent news, Aerie has launched the “Real” Spring 2014 campaign which no longer uses size 00 models or Photoshop. The campaign promotes healthy young women of all shapes and sizes. The campaign ads go against unrealistic, airbrushed, and photo shopped models. In 2013, “body positivity” messaging began making way with other companies such as Special K, Pantene and Dove promoting real women accepting their imperfections.
Promoting “body positivity” is just the start to helping young men and women embrace their imperfections and to strive for a healthy body and not an unrealistic one. One of the most obvious ways to promote this is to join the Real Campaign. To educate the upcoming generations, Body Positivity is something that should be taught in health classes in grade schools. Clothing stores should ban all use of airbrushed models, to prevent people from perceiving an unrealistic body image.
To open the eyes of the A & F CEO, avoid going in his stores and buying his clothes. When he realizes he’s lost the support of his exclusive audience, he may rethink his priorities and morals.