Protests Abercrombie & Fitch

By Victoria Kim 06/07/13

Activists say the clothing store, which refuses to stock larger sizes, promotes unhealthy body image and harms people with eating disorders.

A+FProtest_1.jpg activists pose with an A&F
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Activists rallied at Abercrombie & Fitch's flagship store in New York yesterday to protest the brand's exclusionary policy of not stocking clothing above a size 10. They were organized by, a non-profit that provides young people with the resources to campaign for change on a broad range of social issues, and were reacting to comments from Abercrombie's CEO Mike Jeffries, who stated in 2006 that the chain's target audience are the "attractive, cool and popular kids" as opposed to the "not-so-cool kids." Yesterday dozens of activists wore XL and XXL t-shirts that read: "We may not wear this size, but 15,000 of us respect people who do."

"A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong," Jeffries is reported to have said of his company. "Are we exclusionary? Absolutely." Backlash to his remarks recently surfaced in the media, when teen activist Ben O'Keefe, an eating disorder survivor, accused the store of bullying and promoting negative body image among teens. O'Keefe, with support from the National Eating Disorder Associationpetitioned the store to expand their size offerings, gaining nearly 76,000 signatures so far. An estimated 8 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder, with the problem setting in at increasingly younger ages.

Now Do Something has joined the fight—petitioning the company to offer clothing for "people of all body types" with almost 17,000 people now signed on to the cause. "We've gotten some moving testimonials from people who have struggled with eating disorders," Naomi Hirabayashi, director of marketing at Do Something, tells The Fix. "Their responses are of anger and frustration. They're saying 'We have it hard enough trying to overcome some of these challenges, and we're going to speak out and fight against the people who are making this even harder on us.'" Abercrombie has since issued a public apology—without offering concrete change. "Despite A&F's rhetoric of apologizing and back-pedaling, regardless of how genuine you think it is, they have yet to make the kind of changes that we want to see," Hirabayashi tells us. "We've also yet to hear the CEO himself make any apologies for his comments."

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr