Big Girls Don’t Cry

…but bad ad campaigns do:

Abercrombie & Fitch faced so much backlash over an image it posted of a plus-sized woman modeling the brand’s shorts that it decided to delete the image from its Instagram page.

The photo was posted late last week and quickly went viral, with critics accusing the fashion retailer of promoting unhealthy lifestyles and glorifying obesity. This is a complete turnaround from a company that was once shunned for discriminating against women of average weight.

“New Abercrombie & Fitch ad just dropped…. This season they are featuring diabetes and heart attacks,” one person responded on Twitter to the original photo.

Don’t follow the Twitter link in the article unless you have a seriously strong stomach.

The larger [sic] point, though, is this.  Every business has the right to offer its product to a self-defined sector of the market:  Big & Tall stores don’t have an “XS” or “petite” selection of clothing, and should face no opposition from the Skinnies for doing so.  How, then, is that any different from A&C’s prior positioning statement:

Meanwhile, in 2013, the CEO of Abercrombie went viral for making comments about overweight customers wearing the brand after the retailer was accused of refusing to sell XL- or XXL-sized clothing.

Robin Lewis, author of “The New Rules of Retail,” explained the CEO’s thoughts on the brand, Elite Daily reported.

“He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis said of then-CEO Mike Jeffries. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”

Nothing wrong with that.  But as the Terminally Obese Set finds this “insulting” just because they have bodies that show evidence of multiple trips to the buffet bar and therefore can’t find “fashions” to suit their bloated frames, stores now have to change their policy?

It’s ironic that I come to Abercrombie’s defense here, because one of the real (and rare) shopping pleasures I experienced when moving here in the mid-80s was finding a store that catered to mature (in outlook) men, and sold quality clothing for grownups.  (I know, they used to sell guns, even, but that was in a different time.)

So I was furious when they changed from a man’s store to a yuppie-kids’ outlet, and their real safari gear changed to fashionable (i.e. not real) clothing.  I’ve not set foot in one since, oh, about 1990, but while I hated their new policy, I just accepted it and moved on.

As should the Fatties — although the very fact that Abercrombie now markets clothing for the Elephantine Set means they’ve moved far from Mike Jeffries, and closer to Lane Bryant.

Idiots.  Maybe they should go back to selling clothes and accessories for men.

Guns, too.


  1. Given that there is a substantial market for clothing aimed at seriously obese women (and men) I think it’s a great business decision if clothing brands market to them.
    Whether you like it to have reality shoved in your face is irrelevant in this, as long as it doesn’t cost them more sales than it generates.

    For decades those of us who have clothing sizes larger than extremely small to the point of being anorexic had to content with overpriced specialty shops selling what can only be described as shapeless cloth sacks.
    It’s good that clothing brands are finally starting to notice that there’s a market there and that we are willing to spend real money on clothes if only they are offered.

    Do I like being morbidly obese? Absolutely not and I’ve been struggling with weight loss for decades until I finally found a doctor willing and able to assist me with medication that has helped me lose 45kg over the last 7 months already, after 20 years of doctors and dietitians just telling me to “eat less and you’ll get better” without even bothering to inquire about my diet, which likely would have shocked them as I was eating less than the “recommended diet”.
    Wanted to sign up with a gym several times, and was laughed out of the building by staff giggling that “how cute, fatso wants to get in shape”.

    And it’s the same with a lot of obese people. We WANT to lose weight, but society doesn’t take that wish seriously and just assumes we’re all lazy slobs who eat junk food and copious amounts of snacks all day long. Some do, no doubt, but many have serious medical issues that prevent us losing weight. Medical issues that are ignored even by medical professionals.

    1. Please tell us what this wonder drug was.

      By going extremely low carb, I lost 60 pounds, going from morbidly obese to just obese. I have 50 more pounds to lose and I am always on the lookout for new approaches.

  2. They don’t sell clothing for men because men want, and buy, serious, well made, carefully fitted and durable clothing, even if expensive. Repeat sales only every 5 to 10 years.

    The not-men of today want frivolous clothing, don’t know the difference between well made and poorly made, and don’t care, likewise for fit and durability, especially if cheap, and don’t care if they fall apart after a year because by then they’re out of fashion. Annual repeat sales, and more profit.

    I like Orwell’s phrase for the not-men, “men without chests”.

    1. I don’t think that was Orwell. I think it was C.S. Lewis. Right country and right educational system, though.

  3. The funniest thing about that campaign was that, not only was she fat, she was plain – bordering on ugly. She was also dressed in unremarkable clothing like that found at Walmart.

    Matter of fact, you can see a woman like that at Walmart any day, in many colors.

  4. Going into the A&F in Beverly Hills was a real treat when I was younger. Just like going to the Eddie Bauer store in San Francisco was.

    As you say, not since the very early 1990’s

    1. The list of formerly decent men’s stores is lengthy, A&F, Eddie Bauer, LL Bean. Hell, the last time I went into a Cabelas the place was almost exclusively wall to wall cheap Chinese made clothing.

  5. 1960 or so.
    My grampa Jack and I went to Abercrombie and Fitch Expedition Outfitters in Denver, Colorado.
    The interior was approximately the size of an American football field.
    Grampa Jack told me ‘take your time, see what you want to see’.
    I wandered, my expedition around the far reaches of the globe.
    In the binocular section, sporting a red turban, an elderly customer with a unknown accent showed me a grid on the far wall, helped me adjust the focus, told me about the lens and glass, about never touching them.
    I remember three walls had rifles on display… easily a few hundred to a side.
    Handguns were on pegs.
    Walk up, choose one, take it off the shelf or peg, fuss with it for awhile.
    Wipe it reverently with the supplied slightly-oily cloth, put it back where I found it.
    Range in the basement.
    Casting ponds in the parking-lot… pull on your waders and try a rod to check its accuracy in a toss.
    I remember the sensory satisfaction of rubbing yellowed elephant tusks.
    Stroking the skull of a lion, knowing my kind were out-matched without a capable weapon and a crew of beaters.
    I remember the porosity of the marble busts of Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson.
    The life-size marble statue of archer Fred Bear… touching its hands.
    Hoppe’s Number Nine.
    I turn 71 in a few weeks.
    Hard for me to express all we lost.

  6. When I was a kid we would visit family in Oklahoma City and I would spend a day walking around downtown OKC spending most of my time in the Andy Anderson store. ‘With no small effort, three Andy Anderson Co. workers seized the trophy head of a cape buffalo by the horns to ease it down from its place above the gun rack last week. The exercise brought sighs from nostalgic shoppers observing preparations to close the longtime Oklahoma City landmark sporting goods store in October 1992.’ As a 14 year old kid the sales people were glad to let me look at and hold and of the guns knowing I was not really a buyer but they enjoyed visiting with me anyway.

  7. Does a week go by without an article about how Americans are getting bigger in terms of obesity and not strength and such? Clothing companies would do well to market to us extra fluffy types.

    Ozempic, used to treat Type II Diabetes has a side affect of weight loss. That side affect is certainly common.

    Bean used to make really good stuff however they have definitely moved towards the lowest bidder on quite a bit of their stuff. they used to have a great return policy but not anymore. Some egghead with a Harvard MBA put the kibosh to that. LL Bean still has some discovery schools that are worth attending. I have taken a few of their kayak classes. I also took their shotgun wing shooting class in Maine and an introduction to fly fishing. I believe they also have introductions to camping and kayak trips that you can go on too.

    Cabelas was pretty good but pricey for gear until they were bought by Bass Pro Shops. Now their stuff is mediocre at best. I bought a duffel bag from them a few years ago and within a couple of months the stitching that attached velcro on the handle started coming undone. The bag was only used about two to three times and was not treated harshly. I’ll have to hand sew that back in place over the winter.

    A&F was a fine outdoor company from what I hear but they turned into yuppy crap in the 80s or perhaps earlier. To hear about having a gun range in the basement and a place to try out fishing gear makes me miss such a facility.

    REI has some nice stuff especially if you join their CO-OP system so you can pick up slightly used stuff for cheap at their garage sales. I’ve picked up quite a few things at bargain prices because some yuppei thought it was too heavy or didn’t work for them. I’ve picked up two sets of Nikon binoculars for about 50% off retail. One is a compact set 10×20 or so and the other set is larger size 8×50 Monarch II or something. They’re rather good quality and very handy. The smaller pocket set goes with me whenever I head to the woods. they also offer some classes but haven’t taken any of them so far.


  8. “…But as the Terminally Obese Set finds this “insulting”

    The reality, Kim, is that most of them simply don’t care. You might find one or two that do care – if you search a little, but mostly what you will find is some feckless, lying, “journalist”, who wants to take a nothing-burger and make “THE BIG STORY!” out of it.

    The reality is that for someone who is big – by various definitions of “big” – it is tough to find clothes that fit us that you don’t have to take a second mortgage out in order to afford. Why? Because everyone is selling to the vegans and college kids.

    I’m six foot two and my waist is 42 inches. I’m a big guy but I’m not obese. Just finding a decent pair of jeans that fit is a struggle. If I find the right waist size, they’re high-waters. If I find the right length, you could fit two of me at the waist. Big-&-Tall shops are one solution but then there’s that second mortgage thing.

    1. I’m with you there, brother.

      Although I’m 6′, I got the old man’s 29″ inseam. Stores flat out don’t stock that.

      And at 230, I’m not obese whatsoever and actually am pretty fit for my age. But I have a 40-41″ waist. I’ve had that since high school, that damn edomorph thing.

      So I end up going online. You can generally find those odd sizes on Amazon (hock, spit).

      The other thing I do is dress better. Get tailored pants.

    2. Eugene, Oregon.
      In Carhartt, I wear 31×36.
      I order mine through our local Coastal Farm And Ranch supply.
      Probably close to ten percent of the store is all Carhartt, only Carhartt.
      I wear my Carhartt in their ‘Moss Green’.
      My birthday is in a few weeks.
      Hint hint.

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