Sorry, We Only Want "Beautiful People"
By Allison, age 13, Florida
When asked by Salon.com reporter Benoit Denizet-Lewis about how big sexual attractions and sex itself are in the "emotional experience" a shopper gets when shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch stores, A&F's CEO Mike Jeffries gave this nonchalant reply:
"It's almost everything. That's why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don't market to anyone other than that."
Discrimination in the workplace isn't new. Many store chains have been sued and boycotted over the years for offensive products or turning down job applications because of the candidate's race or physical features. Two of the most popular teen stores being sued right now are Abercrombie and Fitch and Hollister Co. From tees touting slogans like "Who Needs Brains When You Have These" and cartoon pictures of Asians wearing rice paddy hats, parents became furious at the store for targeting young girls when they sold thongs saying "Eye Candy" on them.
Whether we like it or not, it's true that your physical appearance is the first impression you make on people. When it comes to jobs appearance is a big factor in whether you get the position you're hoping for or not. If you had to choose between a man in ragged clothing who's bald or a well-kempt woman with nice hair, whom would you rather have cut your hair? And would you want to get a manicure by someone with dirt under her nails?
When it comes down to making or not making money, stores are going to do anything to get people to buy their products. However, sometimes this drive to succeed has caused them to cross the line, as in the case of "Gonzalez vs. Abercrombie". Abercrombie, Inc. was sued 40+ million dollars because of race discrimination between Asians, Hispanics, African Americans, and other minorities.
In a society where the "perfect American image" is defined with a wide berth, a company like A&F choosing (and voicing) that only slender, blue-eyed, blonde-haired Caucasians are what they're looking for while trying to target the entire youth market is making a major mistake. In a world where we fight back, this injustice can only happen for so long.
What should you do if you believe you're being discriminated against for a position? Start with a simple Google search (tip: use keywords like "job discrimination" and "federal laws against job discrimination"). There are many sites giving information on what is considered job discrimination. Federal law strictly prohibits this sort of unfair treatment. If what you've experienced does fall in this category, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file a claim. Also contact your community leaders, and of course, your friends and family.
With the right to have equal and fair treatment without discrimination in matters such as race, gender, or body type, we can all put a stop to people like Mike Jeffries (CEO of A&F), who is encouraging America's teens and preteens to strive for an impossible stereotype that is unrealistic, and above all, fake.
Helpful Link: www.youth.eeoc.gov