"Fitch, Please": Celebrity A-List Backlash Against Abercrombie & Fitch Continues to Grow

Insensitive remarks can continue to sting, long after they are said.

By Manuel McDonnell Smith


Kirstie Alley photo by Shutterstock

"Time heals all wounds," promises the old adage. Apparently, one month is not going to be enough for retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, whose brand is being beaten about by Hollywood's elite over its discriminatory policies regarding plus-sized people.

Actress Kirstie Alley started the celebrity movement with her immediate response to A&F's revelation that the brand has decided not to sell women's clothes larger than size 10. CEO Mike Jeffries once said, "A lot of people don't belong in our clothes, and they can't belong." Understandably offended, Alley pledged that her children "will never walk into those stores because of his view of people."

Since then, a chorus of Hollywood voices has joined in publicly bashing the brand and the offensive views spewed by its CEO, including:

Miley Cyrus

The actress/singer has reportedly promised to burn all of her A&F clothing not only because she hated the company's comments, but also because they were "stinking up my place."

Ellen DeGeneres

On her popular television talk show, the comedienne weighed in on the controversy with a sketch comparing the company's sizes to tiny baby clothes. Her commentary, titled "Fitch, Please," has been viewed nearly 3 million times on YouTube.

Greg Karber

Promising a "brand readjustment" for the Abercrombie clothing line, the Los Angeles filmmaker toured area thrift stores collecting the brand's items and then distributed them to the homeless. The video documentary of his efforts has more than 7.6 million views on YouTube and has been endorsed by Rosie O'Donnell and Katie Couric.

Jes Baker

Not only did the popular plus-sized blogger pen an open letter blasting Abercrombie CEO Jeffries, she also posed for a faux ad campaign wearing A&F ("Attractive & Fat") apparel. Her efforts received national attention when they were featured on NBC's Today show.

Partially in response to the backlash, Abercrombie announced a new initiative to support anti-bullying organizations and provide college scholarships for students who have persevered against or fought bullying. In a statement released by the company, Jeffries said, "We've listened to the conversations and heard the message and, as a company, look forward to increasing our commitment to anti-bullying efforts," and then went on to claim that the company is "fully committed to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion."

While this press release appears to show that the uproar has finally reached the company's board room, it may have arrived too late for the brand's customers and Wall Street investors. Over the past month, A&F's stock has been trending down more than 5 points under its monthly average.

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Lynching Memorial and Museum Opening Highlights America's Racist Past, Parallels Today's Killings of African Americans

"We're dealing with police violence. We deal with these huge disparities in our criminal justice system. You know, if everything was wonderful you could ask the question, 'Why would you talk about the difficult past?' But everything is not wonderful."

@nullafacente_/INSTAGRAM

Hundreds of people lined up in the rain to experience a long overdue piece of American history and honor the lives lost to lynching at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery Alabama on Thursday.

The Equal Justice Initiative, sponsor of this project, has documented more than 4,000 "racial terror" lynchings in the United States between 1877 and 1950.

The first memorial honoring the victims includes sculptures and art depicting the terror Blacks faced; 800 six-foot steel, engraved monuments to symbolize the victims; writings and words of Toni Morrison and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and a final artwork by Hank Willis Thomas capturing the modern-day racial bias and violence embedded in the criminal justice system and law enforcement.

Among memorial visitors were civil right activist Rev. Jesse Jackson and film director Ava Duvernay. According to the Chicago Tribune, Jackson said it would help dispel the American silence on lynchings, highlighting that whites wouldn't talk about it because of shame and Blacks wouldn't talk about it because of fear. The "60 Minutes Overtime" on the memorial just three weeks earlier was reported by Oprah Winfrey, who stated during her viewing of the slavery sculpture, "This is searingly powerful." Duvernay, quoted by the Chicago Tribune, said: "This place has scratched a scab."

The Montgomery Downtown business association's President, Clay McInnis, who is white, offered his thoughts to NPR in reference to his own family connection to the history that included a grandfather who supported segregation and a friend who dismantled it. "How do you reconcile that on the third generation?" he asked. "You have conversations about it."

A place to start: The Montgomery Advertiser, the local newspaper, apologized for its racist history of coverage between the 1870s and 1950s by publishing the names of over 300 lynching victims on Thursday, the same day as the memorial opening. "Our Shame: the sins of our past laid bare for all to see. We were wrong," the paper wrote.

The innumerable killings of unarmed Black men and the robbing of Black families of fathers, mothers, and children today not only strongly resemble the history of lynchings, but also bring up the discomfort and visceral reactions that many have not reckoned with.

Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and the man who spearheaded this project, told NPR: "There's a lot of conflict. There's a lot of tension. We're dealing with police violence. We deal with these huge disparities in our criminal justice system. You know, if everything was wonderful you could ask the question, 'Why would you talk about the difficult past?' But everything is not wonderful."

WFSA, a local news station, interviewed a white man who had gone to see the Legacy Museum downtown, also part of the EJI project, located at the place of a former slave warehouse. He talked about how he was overwhelmed by the experience and that "Slavery is alive in a new way today."

Reactions on social media were reflective of the memorial's power and the work that is continuing toward progress.

During a launch event, the Peace and Justice Summit, Marian Wright Edelman, activist and founder of the Children's Defense Fund, urged the audience to continue their activism beyond the day's events on issues like ending child poverty and gun violence, according to the Chicago Tribune: "Don't come here and celebrate the museum ... when we're letting things happen on an even greater scale."

Perhaps the reason to honor and witness the horrific experiences of our ancestors is to seal in our minds the unacceptable killings of Blacks today, and the work we ALL have to do now to stop repeating the past.

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