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Abercrombie & Fitch tries to make amends with anti-bullying T-shirt (but still no plus-sizes)

One of Abercrombie & Fitch’s women’s anti-bullying T-shirts.

Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch may want only cool, good-looking people to wear their clothes, but they'd still like their customer to be nice to their unworthy peers. To remind them, the clothing line is now selling anti-bullying T-shirts: "Bros before bullies," as one proclaims.

Of course, because A&F would also prefer that larger people shop elsewhere, its women's styles are apparently only available up to size 10.

As Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams writes, this is the same company whose CEO Mike Jeffries described why they liked to hire only attractive people for their stores. "Good-looking people attract other good-looking people and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. … A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny."

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His comments gave A&F a lot of press, but much of it wasn't good. As Williams says – "the considerably populous not-so-cool lobby" had a lot to say about the company's marketing scheme. Not least of which was that Jeffries' comments "foster bullying and discrimination."

This public shaming didn't lead to bigger sizes in the store, but Jeffries did meet with a teen activist who had started an online campaign to get the company to change its policy. In June, the Salon article says, the company began offering scholarships to students who fought bullying. This was followed up by the new T-shirts and an "Are you an ally?" campaign, to enlist cool kids to use their popularity power for good.

At the time the scholarship was announced, Jeffries said, "We've listened to the conversations and heart the message. No young people should ever feel intimidated, especially at school, whether for the clothes they wear, or because someone perceives them as different."

Of course, it would seem to be less of an issue if those same young people didn't feel intimidated about walking into an A&F store, where they will be appraised for their looks and weight.

A T-shirt doesn't change the fact that, as far as Abercrombie & Fitch's messaging is concerned, clothes are the measure of a person. And they'll decide who measures up.

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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