‘The Look’ puts A&F in hot water

She was hired to be a sales representative, but ended up working in the stock room. The reason was not due to unsatisfactory job performance on her part, but rather that management did not consider her face to be pretty enough to work in the front of the retail store.

Although this scenario may seem outrageous, it is a true story. College student Kristen Carmichael’s face was rated a zero by her manager on a scale of zero to five. Her rating then determined whether she was allowed to work on the main floor of a Dallas Abercrombie and Fitch store. Because her face ranked zero according to the manager, she was moved to the stock room to fold clothes, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Carmichael said that this method of business is sending the wrong message, according to the Dallas Morning News.

“It just seems so superficial,” Carmichael said. “I don’t think I’m the most attractive person in the world, but I don’t think I’m so hideous you have to shove me into a back room.”

Abercrombie and Fitch is a popular brand among many high school and college-age students. However, the store’s patrons need to approach the promoted look with a discerning mind.

Not to hold that advocating a certain style is unethical. There are retail stores that promote solely professional, formal or sportswear. There is obviously nothing wrong with Abercrombie and Fitch promoting the preppy style for which it is known.

The issue arises when its salespeople are judged on behalf of the perceived attractiveness of their faces or bodies and treated unfairly. Employees should be rewarded or demoted as a result of their quality of work, not their physical appearance.

However, Abercrombie and Fitch takes this concept of good looks over hard work so far as to even call their employees as models, rather than sales representatives, according to BBC news.

Furthermore, the company’s employee handbook is called the “Abercrombie Look Book,” according to the New York Times. This term comes from the fashion industry’s “look books” with different clothing items that are new for each season.  Although one may argue this is just a name for a book, it reveals much more about what the store is all about.

Abercrombie and Fitch also has what they refer to as a “Look Policy,” which regulates many aspects of employee appearance, right down to the length of fingernails, according to ABC News.

If the brand is really so focused on promoting a certain style, they should not limit it simply to those whose faces and bodies fit their criteria. To truly promote a concept, more often than not, the advocate will not and should not, limit it to an extremely small part of the population.

The issue is not restricted to Dallas. London Abercrombie and Fitch employee Riam Dean was made to work in the stock room because her prosthetic arm did not fit the company’s “Look Policy.” Dean soon quit her job after a mere two months, according to ABC News.

“I had been bullied out of my job,” Dean said, according to ABC News.

Patrons of Abercrombie and Fitch need to approach shopping at the store with a mind not easily influenced by the company’s “Look Policy.” While there is nothing wrong with preferring a certain style of clothing, issues will arise if customers let their standard of attractiveness be determined by Abercrombie and Fitch’s narrow-minded “Look Book.”

One comment

  • I think it comes down to a choice of the individual working there. I worked for that company for almost 5 years. Worked every position even up to stock-room manager. Yes the look requirements are ridiculous, but its your choice to work there, and they are paying you. Just a thought…

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