The 1% Club…More Exclusive than Abercrombie

If you were anywhere online last week, you know all about the crap storm that Abercrombie and Fitch’s CEO Mike Jeffries created for his company.

images

This man.  A man who doesn’t appear to be capable of blinking his eyes or closing his mouth (but fully capable of scaring small children) drew the proverbial line in the sand and declared war against the average American when he openly stated that Abercrombie sells only to skinny women; no fat girls allowed. And just in case you’re wondering what size Mr. Jeffries starts considering women fat – anything above a size 10.  The quote below is from Mr. Jeffries regarding his views about beauty and Abercrombie’s marketing strategy:

“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.

In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. 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. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

As you can see from his own words, he’s pretty proud of the exclusionary club he’s created.  A club that forces unrealistic and unhealthy body images at us with every seductive advertisement.  A club that is responsible for countless tears shed by teenage girls because they don’t can’t belong in that club.  Psychologically damaging doesn’t even begin to describe Mr. Jeffries’ club.

I could go on and on about the damage Abercrombie has caused by its bigoted marketing practices but that’s an entirely different post.  Right now , I want to introduce you to another club.  One that’s MORE exclusive then Mr. Jeffries’ could even imagine. The 1% Club.

marathon graphic

Welcome to the 1% Club. This club literally is the ‘cool kid’s club.’ However, as exclusive as this club is, it really is one of the most inclusive clubs out there.  There is no discriminating in the 1% Club; we want and welcome everyone and every body.  You can be short, tall, skinny, fat, able bodied or disabled.  The only thing you have to do to belong is to decide that you want in.

Initiation into the 1% Club doesn’t come easy, but it’s worth it.  To get in, it will take you months of preparation, countless hours of questioning if you can actually do it, and one 26.2 mile race that will test your mental fortitude.  However, crossing that finish line secures lifelong membership.

Wondering what type of company you’ll be in once you’re a member?  These are just a few of the characteristics the members of the 1% Club exhibit: determination, tenaciousness, confidence, empowerment, patience, selflessness, empathy, acceptance of others, camaraderie, and the list could go on and on.  Members are supportive of each other, encouraging of each other, and celebrate each time someone, including a someone they don’t know, crosses that finish line.  You will never feel like you have to change who you are to belong to the 1% Club.

I wanted to showcase some of the fabulous marathoners out there so I reached out to my fellow Sweat Pink Ambassadors.  The following pictures are of women, all shapes and sizes, who are proud to call themselves marathoners and be part of the 1% Club:

Mary V. (my runspiration) and her dad Mel. Both are proud marathoners.

Mary V. (my runspiration) and her dad Mel.
Both are proud marathoners.

marathoner

Tanya B.
Blogs at Run Turtle Run

Mindy B. Blogs at Road Runner Girl

Mindy B.
Blogs at Road Runner Girl

2

Tabitha Y.
Blogs at Tab a Dilly

3

Pam
Blogs at We Run Disney

Colleen D. Blogs at Live Free and Run

Colleen D.
Blogs at Live Free and Run

Untitled

Megan S.
Blogs at Elbowglitter

Karolynh Blogs at Karolyhn Can Run

Karolynh
Blogs at Karolyhn Can Run

Abby L. Blogs at Back at Square Zero

Abby L.
Blogs at Back at Square Zero

Megan J. Blogs at #RunMeganRun

Megan J.
Blogs at #RunMeganRun

Cori Blogs at Olive to Run

Cori
Blogs at Olive to Run

Kate E. Blogs at Run with Kate

Kate E.
Blogs at Run with Kate

And meeeeeee! Proud marathoner & 1% Club member.

And meeeeeee!

Even though the women pictured above are all quite different, there are a few common traits that you can see: grit, determination, and pure happiness.  Happiness that can’t be purchased in a store.  This is the type of club I’m proud to be a part of.  One that celebrates the diversity in people and encourages self growth through a 26.2 mile journey.  Not the club Mr. Jeffries’ & Abercrombie has taken so much care and bigoted energy to create with their clothing.

One of my favorite running quotes of all time is “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”– Kathrine Switzer.  Obviously Mr. Jeffries has never spectated a marathon; that doesn’t seem like something ‘cool’ people do.  It’s kind of hard to restore your faith in humanity when you’re busy destroying everyone else’s.  Who knows, maybe he’ll have a change of heart with his narrow fat/skinny view of the world someday, but as far as I’m concerned, he did us all a favor by being ignorant enough to boast about his discriminatory viewpoint.  It makes my decision {and hopefully millions of other’s} to never shop there again incredibly easy.  Even though I’m their target demographic, their clothes will never touch this body.  Ever.

Don’t let someone else’s narrow view of the world define your worth.  However, if you’re upset about being excluded from the Abercrombie club, remember two things: 1.) you have the purchasing power to shut that club down and 2.) you have a standing invitation to an even more exclusive club. Myself and everyone of those ladies pictured above can’t wait for you to join us.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the 1% Club includes also includes clothing.  As a member, you’ll be the recipient of some of the most amazing race t-shirts, tanks, shorts, shoes and more accessories then you can ever imagine.  And the absolute best part? Elastic band pants are the preferred clothing choice. Word.  Abercrombie doesn’t have anything on the comfort, style and fashion of workout clothes.  Suck it Jeffries.

Question:  What do you think about Mike Jeffries’ / Abercrombie & Fitch’s viewpoint on selling clothing only to certain people.

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67 thoughts on “The 1% Club…More Exclusive than Abercrombie

  1. Thanks for including me in your post. I love being part of the 1% club! The Abercrombie target market makes it so hard on girls, and despite my daughter being grown, I appreciate the issues that young women face. It would be great if many more would join us in our club with awesome race attire, sweaty bodies and happy faces!

    • Amen, Pam! I just can’t believe in this day and age that someone would be so openly bigoted. I wish that we could charge him all the of the therapy bills he’s causing for teenage girls. Adults, we have thicker skin, but his beliefs are so detrimental to young girls. 😦

  2. I didn’t really agree with what Mike Jeffries said, but I think all the teen stores feel that way. He just came out and said it. We don’t have Abercrombie here but I like Hollister- same brand- and will keep shopping there. As someone who is very thin (yes, I am a size 0. A true size 0. And healthy- I’m 5’0″ so it’s different when you’re short), it’s hard to find stylish clothes that fit. Those stores have some things that are obviously for teens but I can get cute polo shirts, shorts/pants that fit… a lot of the styles are classic and the clothes hold up well. If I go to the juniors section of stores at the mall, everything is cheaply made and looks like it belongs in the local middle school. I for one am grateful Abercrombie makes small clothes.

    But really… Mike isn’t targeting most of us. Most people who shop at Abercrombie, with the exception of very tiny adults like myself, are in the 13-20 age range and that’s the kind of body they have. It’s hard for overweight teens to find clothes anywhere, really not an abercrombie problem, but rather a niche market for someone else to design clothes and develop a store for bigger teens who still want to look nice.

    I spectated at a tri a few weeks ago to cheer/volunteer and am with you on the bodies thing. Runner bodies come in all shapes and sizes. There were triathletes there who probably fell in the overweight or obese BMI categories (which BMI is a crock anyway)… but they were doing a triathlon. My leaned out long distance runner body hasn’t done that. It really is amazing.

    • I definitely see your point, Amy. I have a hard body size to shop for, too (5’8″ and size 2 long) and am grateful when I find clothes that fit. I completely agree how every store is selective and markets to the young, trendy crowd; after all, that’s the crowd teens are dying to be a part of right? However with Abercrombie, they actually don’t manufacture sizes bigger than a 10 for women and that’s where their bigoted beliefs become reality and we part company. It just makes me sad that he’s so vocal about it; no concern whatsoever about the emotional damage he’s causing. My money is better spent supporting other companies.

      Kudos to you for volunteering at a tri. I volunteered at one last year and had an absolute blast. It really is awesome seeing all the different shapes and sizes that go out there and have fun! 🙂

  3. YES! Fist pump Gina. Way to go after it and really put it all in perspective. I don;t know how size 10 correlates in Australia. But I know I’d rather be a marathoner.

  4. this is a lovely post, and im so glad that you are sharing the recognition of some amazing women out there!!! about the Abercrombie issues: growing up I was a chubby kid, and through out middle school I developed a HUGE chest. I couldn’t fit into Abercrombie t shirts because of this. I had a very tiny older sister who wore Abercrombie all the time, and I always felt so badly that I couldn’t wear what she wore. after I had a breast reduction in college and started to exercise and eat right, I became a tiny thing now and could easily fit those clothes, but I don’t buy them 1. bc of the price and 2. because ive never wanted to support something that made me feel so crappy as a kid. I understand its their prerogative to target whatever people they want. I also understand that there are also stores that only sell to plus size, but that’s not the point. what makes me sick is his reasoning for why they only target “the skinny” people and actually believe that “skinny” makes you cool. wth?! I guess they just don’t know what they are doing to people. I mean seriously. where is the love?

    • You are such an amazing person, Jenna. Thank you for being so open with your comment. What you went through as a teenager is exactly what thousands of young girls are going through right now; I wish I could share your comment with each of them to let them know it does get better. There is love in the world, just not from A&F’s CEO. I think we should package you up and send you to talk some sense into him; he could use a good dose of Jenna positivity! ❤

  5. Bravo girlie! If he wants to be that narrow minded – and I agree he’s not the only company that feels this way – then he’ll only attract those people and those will only dissipate with time…and I can’t WAIT to be part of the 1% club!

  6. I WANT TO BE PART OF THE 1% CLUB! Anyways, I was horrified when I read what Jeffries said. It’s one thing to have that be part of your marketing plan (although I definitely DO NOT agree with that either) but to come right out and say you don’t want overweight kids shopping at your store? That can literally ruin a kid’s self-esteem at such an influential age. I do buy some clothes from abercrombie still simply because I like the way their shorts fit me (not the ones that don’t cover your butt obviously) but I have a problem with this latest marketing. I’ll take the clothes that the 1% club wear any day.

    • Sarah, I have absolutely no doubt that you will be part of this club. In fact, I have no doubt that at some point in the near future I’ll be cheering you on {virtually} as you run Boston. Seriously.

      Going back to A&F, what’s scary is that some of the comments the CEO made were from 2006. Unfortunately, their discrimination has been going on for years (probably even decades).

  7. Thanks for including me! I am honored to be a part of this club. You stated everything so well, I totally agree! Sounds like he was never a part of the ‘in’ crowd either, and is now trying to buy his way in. Know what I mean?
    And omg, he needs to lay off the plastic surgery!!!

  8. This is great! I’m a half-marathoner, but I hope to be in the 1% club in the next couple of years. I want to do a few more halfs before I commit to a full, but it’s definitely something I want to do! This is a great response to that article. I was absolutely appalled when I read the article, and then I looked at him and thought “who is he to judge?” Granted, who am I to judge, but if you are going to judge someone on their appearance, you better be the best looking person on the planet. Angels should sing when I look at you 😉

    • “Angels should sing when I look at you” I died laughing! Congratulations on your 1/2 marathon accomplishments, Rachel! That distance isn’t anything to sneeze at either. 🙂 As for running a marathon, you’ll know when the time is right – no need to rush.

  9. This is a great post. I do, however, feel a lot of those teen stores feel that way and don’t say it and honestly a lot of stores in general. That is why you don’t see plus size models and you don’t see more sole plus sized stores. As sad it is, it’s a fact of changing a societies “norm”. Personally I’m not a member of either club but I’d much rather be a runner.

    • One of the things I appreciate about you most is your candor. Please don’t ever change that. I’m proud that you’re a runner! And yes, you’re right that a lot of stores are like that; they just have been sold bold to admit it.

  10. While I appreciate and respect your article, one thing that your post is missing is photos of women of color. We run marathons as well. And while you showcase the diversity (sizes and ages) of being in the 1% club that runs marathons, you completely omitted African-Americans, Hispanics, Latinos, etc. It’s tough enough that only a small number of minorities run as a hobby, but we are definitely out there so please include us. And for proof, check out what Black Girls RUN! is doing for the African-American community. 🙂 Thank you.

    • I know I’m missing out on many different types of marathoners. The women you see are just the ones that submitted pictures; unfortunately, I can’t just use pictures without permission. I hope that doesn’t detract from the message behind my post that ANY one can belong. And I don’t need proof that minorities run, one of my RBF’s (running best friends) is hispanic and my very best friend is African American. I wouldn’t intentionally discriminate on a post about not discriminating.

      I hope in the future to see more and more minorities getting into running and with great programs out there like Black Girls RUN, I have no doubt we’ll see that happen very soon. 🙂

      • Thank you and I totally understand. I know we (minorities) get looked over a lot because our numbers are small, but with BGR! we are hoping to change that. Your message was and still is clear and I appreciate it. I’ll be running my first marathon in November and it’s the support of BGR! and fellow runners that will get me through. 🙂

  11. That made me so mad when I read his statements. i have actually never shopped there, even in high school, for that reason. I have just always been super aware of their tight fit clothing and lack of sizes. I can’t believe only 1% has…that actually really shocked me. Maybe because of the blog world I just think a ton of people have run a marathon.

    • Confession….I don’t think there’s any substantial data to back up that 1% claim. It’s just one of those generally accepted figures. But yes, I was shocked the first time I heard the stat as well.

  12. I haven’t yet joined the 1% club, but I’m on my way. I’ve never shopped at Abercrombie and Fitch not only because their clothes don’t fit me, but because they always seemed like stuck up snobs whenever I went in there. I like this 1% club much better. I love having people I don’t even know cheering for me as I run a 5k.

    • Yes, the strangers cheering are the BEST part! =D Something that I learned from this whole A&F ordeal is that the CEO discriminates on his employees just as much as he does his customer. I can’t imagine how terrible that work environment it. Not that it excuses any behavior you’ve encountered when you’ve gone in there, but it does explain it a bit.

  13. This is SUCH a great post!! I HATE that monster looking guy and his ridiculous ways. Such a shame because I love some of the A&F clothes I have, I won’t be purchasing anymore from now on though. I would MUCH rather be in the 1% club, and need to find the determination to join you and ALL these amazing ladies!

    • Consumerism at it’s finest, Britt. We don’t like the discrimination you’re selling with your clothes, we won’t shop there. You totally have the determination inside of join the 1% Club and we’ll be waiting for you when you’re ready! ❤

  14. Well said! I couldn’t agree with you more. I will NEVER purchase anything from that store again — not that I have much in the past. It’s disgusting! I like the 1% club you’re advocating for, now I just need to join it!

  15. I am so proud to be a part of the 1% club!!! I think the Abercrombie viewpoint is absolutely disgusting and part of what is wrong with America today. We all come in all shapes and sizes…and the fact that they only want “skinny” is ridiculous! There are tons of people out there that may not be a size 2 but they are healthy and that’s what matters the most. Thanks for this post Gina!

    • Yes ma’am, I’m proud you’re part of it, too! I totally agree with you, Mindy. As a skinny girl myself, I honestly don’t see what’s so great about it. The body types I admire aren’t the ones that fit A&F’s skinny standards. Healthy comes in all sizes.

  16. I love this post! Thank you for putting it together. I would have loved to read this when I was in high school. Luckily now, I have learned that places like that don’t define who I am, and that is largely thanks to running. I can achieve great things no matter my size, age, color etc. I’m training for my first marathon right now and can’t wait to join the one percent!

    • I wish that I had known a lot of things in high school; it’s ridiculous the amount of unnecessary pressure that young girls (and guys, too) face. Congrats on letting your inner awesomeness shine through and finding yourself with running. If you would have told my teenage self that in 10 years I would feel the most beautiful w/o makeup and covered in sweat, I would have died! Good luck with your marathon; it’s going to be an amazing experience!! =D

  17. I love this post! Way to go…I’m so glad you said what you did and replaced his negative message with something so completely stellar. I am a member of the half marathon club and hope to become a member of the 26.2 club one day!

  18. AMEN! Great post, Gina!

    A&F reminds me of middle and high school big time. All the “cool kids” definitely wore this label, and I remember trying to shop there and having the hardest time finding pants that fit. After a while, I just gave up. A&F isn’t the only company projecting these harmful images and messages, and I feel so bad for this generation of kids who are constantly bombarded with these ideals. Very problematic.

    On a lighter note, one day I will be part of the 1% club. 🙂

    • I completely agree with you Carrie. I wish that A&F wasn’t the only store projecting harmful body images but I know that there are so many others. 😦

      And yes, yes you will be part of the 1% club. I have absolutely NO doubt about that.

  19. EXCELLENT POST!!! I love being a part of the 1% club, nothing better than the marathon:) I never really shopped with A&F in the past, and to be honest even if I received a gift certificate for a bunch of free stuff from them, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t use it. I would hate to be someone sporting their logo now (skinny or larger) and put this new “label” on myself. Great people come in ALL shapes and sizes! Runners and Marathon runners come in all sizes and can finish any distance! Greatness doesn’t come in size, it comes from within, and it’s really sad that people use sterio-types and labels like this to hurt other people! I hope their sales begin to hurt, I don’t think we’d miss the loss of their company!

  20. Ummm….. I LOVE This. You went about commenting his posting in a great way – I love how you focused on how awesome our club is – woohoo 1%. Also, your personality really shines through in this post and it is fabulous. So happy to be in your club!
    Bets club ever. Now can we make up a cool handshake. (I mean we all already have matching friendship necklaces, I believe they are called medals by some.)

  21. Can’t wait to join you 1%-ers! Atheletic clothes, now you are speaking my language!
    And to echo a couple other people, unfortunately its not just Abercrombie that does this, many of the targeted teen stores do this as well…they may not ever come out and say it so plainly though!

  22. Thanks for the mention!
    I’m a 12 (14 in some brands) and although I’m probably 15 lbs heavier than what I should be, I’m still healthy. Even ran my first 50 miler last fall. Let’s see ol’ botox Jeffries try that one on for size (I’m guessing it wouldn’t fit him). 🙂

  23. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!! Such an awesome blog post!! He’s a bully and I find it mortifying that he is OK with that way of thinking!! I don’t shop there and never will.

  24. Found you at Back at Square Zero.. such a great post & I was sharing this craziness right when the story came out! Funny you start with the pic but I was thinking the same thing & wrote that in my comment at Abby’s place. I wrote about this crap a lot – so makes so many people feel that they will never be enough! Part of my Under Armour campaign thing – I am so glad you did this!

  25. What an a**hole. I’m a mother to a son and soon to be mother of a daughter. When I found out I was having a girl not only was I excited I was scared. There are many things that kill confidence in young women. I was affected by several of them. I never felt that I looked good enough or was good enough. I don’t want my daughter to ever feel that way. She is enough we all are enough. I’m a member of the 1% club and that is badass and way better than those overpriced shoddily made clothes.

    Great post!

    • I can imagine how scary it is being the mommy-to-be of a daughter. (Cognratulations, btw!) Even though there are people like the A&F CEO out there, I have no doubt that you will raise your daughter to believe and be confident of herself. We can’t change the way others think (even though it would benefit the world), we can just prepare the next generation to handle adverse situations when they arise. And we can also teach big brothers to look out for their little sisters. 😉

  26. I LOVE this post. It really speaks to me. There was a time when I could wear Abercrombie but now I can’t fit in them anymore. I didn’t ever really buy them anyways. I am a size 10, but Abercrombie’s size 10 is NOT a normal size 10! And way to make pretty, wonderful teenage women feel like they’re not worth it. The message alone is why I will never ever support them.

    • Thank you Amalia, I’m so glad you found something in this post that resonated with you. I think the most hurtful thing is not the fact that they are marketing to a certain demographic but the fact that his outspoken distaste of normal, healthy sizes (size 10 is NOT fat) really sends the message to younger girls that if you’re not thin, you’re nothing. Shameful is what he is.

  27. I found your blog through Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean’s Bean Bytes, and this post kind of sort of made me completely fall in love with you (I hope that’s not too creepy). You can bet I’ll most definitely be following and I look forward to reading everything you post in the future! 😀

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