Cheapening Our Bodies, Male and Female

So, apparently the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch has a really big problem with bigger people. A&F will not sell larger sizes because, as CEO Mike Jeffries tells a Business Insider reporter, “…we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”beauty-comes-in-all-shapes

So, not only does Jeffries want us all to believe that someone with some meat on her/his bones is unattractive, s/he is also “not cool.” Is there a clearer example of how shallow and incipid the image-driven world is?

I also found it interesting that the article that criticized this focused only on women’s sizes. I get, of course, that body image is a very serious problem among women, with the associated insecurities, eating disorders and daily judgments based on their appearance.

But guess what? A&F isn’t treating men much better. Yes, unlike women’s sizes, A&F does offer up to XL sizes for men…but check out how they define XL. Yeah, XL for men means a 36-inch waist!

Jeffries makes so many disgusting, hateful comments in his interview, it’s nauseating to even read it. Here’s just one quote, elaborating on the above: “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

It’s worth pointing out that Jeffries should perhaps avoid throwing stones. Because this is a man so ugly that one commenter on another blog compared him, unfavorably, to Eric Stoltz in “Mask.” To wit:

mikejeffries_ericstoltz

It’s two issues we have here. Jeffries is obviously an elitist jerk, who is working hard to promote the shallowest aspects of human culture, style over substance, despite being no beauty contest winner himself, or perhaps precisely because of that. But it’s also worth noting that men, too are affected by this sort of attitude. By no means am I suggesting that it is anywhere near the level of the effect on women, but it still matters.

My wife, who is a large and very beautiful woman (and I’m far from the only one who says so), shared an article on Facebook the other day. I liked most of it quite a bit, but I couldn’t hit the like button, as i usually do on her posts.

You see, the article was encouraging large women to be proud of their appearance, and made some really good points. But then there was this one part: “Fat chicks bang hot guys… ALL. THE. TIME. I know that hot is relative and all inclusive depending on who you chat with, but for these purposes, lets talk about the “universally attractive” kind of hot. Y’know, the kind fat chicks don’t deserve? We want to pretend that we don’t know what I’m talking about, but lets be real; we totally do. The fact that “fat chicks bang ‘hot’ guys” was one of the most powerful realizations I’ve had thus far. In line with the above paragraph, I knew that there would be someone that would find me attractive but the pool would be small (because of my body) and potentially full of guys I didn’t personally find sexy. So I would have to settle for anyone that would take me. After all, how could a conventionally gorgeous man (tall and with tattoos of course) like fat chicks?  Weh-he-hell, let me tell you somethin’: through various sites, events, parties, and corner store meetings, I found myself with over a hundred men who were champing at the bit to get with this. I was the one who had to sift through and pick the hottest of the hot.”

Sigh, talk about missing the point. Look, we all find different people attractive, and I’ve never ceased to be amazed that far more women and men find me attractive than I could ever imagine, being that I, like so many of us, don’t think I am. But this does go both ways, and in any case, the issue is to stop judging people by some sort of abstract standard of appearance. How many people, of whatever gender has gotten into an abusive relationship, physical or emotional, because the other person was “hot” and they didn’t, perhaps couldn’t, look any further than that shallow mark? It’s no better, ethically or practically, for women to be sizing men up by their appearance than for men to do it to women.

Believe me, I’m not saying we can’t respond to seeing someone we think is hot. I do it all the time. Eye candy is all good, though I daresay what I think is beautiful may not be the same as you. I hope that’s the case, because that sort of diversity of taste is exactly the point. But it’s just not about how many “hot guys” or “hot gals” we can bang. It’s got to be about something more substantive. There’s nothing wrong with someone who wants sex, and wants multiple and many partners for it. But can we all please stop demanding that there is some standard of beauty that everyone must adhere to, and, while we’re at it, can we start realizing that how we look is not the be all and end all of who we are?

Jes, the woman who writes the “Militant Baker” blog I cited here, has a lot of great stuff to say, but I hope she’ll consider the implications of her one paragraph there. Jeffries, by contrast, is no doubt always going to be part of the problem, and I can only hope that people who fit his ideal body type can see how offensive his thinking is and stop buying his clothes. They’re overpriced and ugly anyway. Like the CEO.

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Categories: Body Image | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Cheapening Our Bodies, Male and Female

  1. Raven

    It has always been very hard (nigh impossible) for me to think of myself as “hot”… until perhaps the last 5 or so years. A huge (heh) part of that has been because as a child/teen I was constantly made fun of by other kids because of my weight Part of the issue is we need to start changing the way kids view and relate to people with different body shapes and sizes. We have made a great deal of headway on this in terms of differently-abled, race, and even percieved sexual orientation.. but it does seem like the one place where is it still ok to descriminate is size.
    Mr. Jeffries’ comments bother me, but not a whole lot. I wouldn’t shop at A&F because I think their stuff is overpriced and over-rated… I honestly don’t care if I am not viewed by Mr. Jeffries as “cool”… my friends, loved ones, and admirers says different, and their opinion is the one that matters. Mr. Jeffries might not think they are “cool” either… but I know they are beautiful, awesome, intelligent, sexy, and inspiring.. if that ain’t cool… what is?
    Well said, Sir..

  2. I think it was very uncool for the Militant Baker to state her preference for “Hot Guys” in a community of men and women who have been told most of their lives that they will never be the “Hot Guy or Girl”

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