Many retail stores have a “look” they are trying to achieve as a marketing tool towards their customers.  They want their salespeople and employees to embody that “look” as well, so their customers believe they will look a certain way after purchasing products from their stores.  Stores like Abercrombie and Fitch have lawsuits filed against them, because of discrimination that occurred during the hiring process because of race, weight, hair and eye color and other appearance characteristics. According to The Look of Abercrombie and Fitch, by Rebecca Leung,”The lawsuit alleges that Abercrombie hires a disproportionately white sales force, favors white employees for the best positions, and discourages minorities from even applying for jobs.” “The image of Abercrombie & Fitch is now party-loving jocks and barenaked ladies living fantasy lives.”  If someone applying for the job does not have these qualities, they are denied the position.

Jennifer Lu, a former employee of Abercrombie and Fitch who was fired after corporate officials came to visit the California store she worked at and didn’t like what they saw said  “It’s dominated by Caucasian, football-looking, blonde-hair, blue-eyed males; skinny, tall.” “You don’t see any African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and that’s the image that they’re portraying and that they’re looking for.”  According to the article, Asians and Latinos were sometimes hired, but only to work in the stock room, where they wouldn’t be seen.  The greeters and salespeople were most often white males with blonde hair and blue eyes.

How is it fair that these stores hire based on looks?  Even if someone had a great resume with a lot of experience and will work hard and do the best job they can do, but don’t have the so-called “All-American” look, they won’t get hired.  The message this store is sending to young children and young adults, who their clothing is targeted to, is that you need to look a certain way in order to be beautiful.  How does this make young african american, asian-american, latino and anyone who doesn’t have these “all-american” features feel?  As a 22 year old female, who does not have blonde hair and blue eyes, I would feel pretty bad that I probably wouldn’t get hired for a position at this company, because my “look” is not good enough for them.  And all-american does not need to mean white, blonde hair and blue eyes.  As a matter of fact, most Americans do not have these qualities- Blacks, Asians and Latinos are all still American.

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About sharonbetesh

I am a student at Hunter College and a media studies major.

One response

  1. Cayla says:

    You point out a very good topic. Living in NYC or any city, you are bound to apply at a retail store if your looking for a job. It is sad but true, the majority of stores you walk into do have a particular look they want the store to portray, targeting a certain size or style. A lot of stores may also treat you different depending upon your physical appearance. This is becoming a major problem because stores are slowly taking the diversity out of their brand. This so called marketing strategy that stores attempt to use only create more problems. I agree with your thoughts that it would be terrible if myself or anyone I knew was not hired because of appearance. Your thoughts on this topic remind me of a case in California where a woman was told by a Hollister official that wearing her head scarf was against the stores dress code. This article can be found here: http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2011/06/28/another-abercrombie-fitch-hijab-lawsuit/