Posted by: Staff | 03.11.2008

Voicing Concerns: A Letter to the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch

EMILY BELOWICH ’11

Dear Mr. Jeffries:

I am writing to tell you about how the sizing of your clothes can impact a young woman’s body image and how that might affect the way in which you market and sell merchandise. I am a 14-year old girl and a freshman in high school. I am five foot seven and weigh approximately 123 pounds. I participate in two varsity teams at school, cross country and basketball. I work out a lot, take good care of my body; I eat right, and care very much about the way I look. I know for a fact that many girls like me are interested in your merchandise, so I hope you will hear what I have to say as a customer.

Last weekend I went into one of your stores, Hollister Co., in Natick, MA, to look for jeans. The last time I shopped there I bought a pair of corduroys, size three. When I walked into your store, a saleslady asked if I needed help finding anything. I told her I was looking for a pair of jeans, size three. She took out two pair of jeans for me to try on. When I got into the fitting room, I tried on the jeans. I could not button either pair, and the jeans were too short. I was confused; I am normally a size two or three, or a 27 wide, and these jeans were labeled a three long. I did not understand why this size wouldn’t fit when all of my other pants this size fit without a problem. I became so upset at what I thought was a change in my body that I ended up leaving the store in tears. Overall, I did not have a good experience shopping here. In fact, I didn’t really have any intention of going back to the store again at that point in time.

As you are well aware, body image is such an important issue for girls, especially teenagers. I think that in order to prevent an experience like this from happening again, you should train the salespeople to first look at customer closely, suggest that the customer bring in a few sizes and tell the customer that the sizes run small. It would not only benefit the customer, but it could even increase the sales in your company. It would have made me feel much better had I been told that the sizes run small. Knowing that, I wouldn’t have been upset trying on a size five. For me, the experience at your store wasn’t a great one. The experience of shopping at Hollister should be fun, not upsetting. I hope that you will take this feedback into consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Emily S. Belowich

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Responses

  1. Well done, Emily!

    GMorillo

  2. I appreciate your essay, Emily. And I see other culprets you might not recognize.

    In a funny way, I think those of us in the community around you bear some responsibility for your (and others’) distress.

    Your mind is bright. Your soul is kind. Your body is healthy. If those of us who know and respect you were to properly reassure you (and other young women) of these obvious facts, then perhaps we could rob the nameless, faceless companies of their power to hurt you with the numbers they print in the waist bands of clothes!

    I think that young women should listen most closely to those who know and respect them best. And I think those of us who know them should speak loudly enough that young women might hear us through the din of corporate advertising and mass media.

    With respect,
    Mr. Albritton

  3. i feel the exact same way & i’m proud of you for standing up for girls our age. i have officially ceased all visits to those stores not only because of sizing but also because of price. $80 can get me around 4 pairs of jeans at Hot Topic! no way jose

  4. Better a late comment than not one at all.

    I see two main issues here:

    One, you’re definitely right about the sizing issue. For those of us girls who are insecure about our bodies, noticing the size labels becoming bigger for an article of clothing that was a smaller size before is discouraging and feeds into the notion that small is best. Some responsibility must be taken by clothing manufacturers to ensure a set sizing label to a particular size.

    On the other hand, this article is somewhat ironic. You claim yourself to be confident about your body image, and yet you admit that a larger size had left you in tears. If you know for a fact that you have not grown any larger, then what’s the issue? It makes me wonder if your confidence about body image is only because you fit the typical Western mold of the “perfect” size and therefore have been benefited in life as a result, or if your confidence is an honest one you have acheived through hard work and a few emotional blows along the way.

    It’s something to think about.


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