Not Pretty Enough: A&F Model Comments on my Nose & Skin Color

Hey guys! As you wait between blogs just thought I would give you a little nibble of what I woke up to this morning and continue to get from Abercrombie employees after I published the first article. It reflects the sad non-inclusive attitude that saturates that company still. I’m currently working on a Stand your Ground piece and  will get back to the “Not Pretty Enough” series after. Thanks for your patience and don’t let people like this dictate your life. I do hope this exchange brings you a couple of laughs. Below is a comment I approved and the email I sent in return. I usually approve and ignore but responses of this type are still far too common. Abercrombie, please correctly apply your standards of diversity and inclusion so your employees don’t surf the net saying such ignorant things on your behalf. If not, I guess I’ll try and correct that flawed thinking for you. For now. #EraseExclusion 

Hey what’s going on Nicole. I’m a Model at one of the stores. In fact, I’m an Asian male, and there multiple Hispanic and African-American models and managers at the store as well. Based on my observations at the store, you differ quite significantly from the typical look at A&F, especially with your lips (at least 3 times too thick), nose (too wide on the sides) and eyes (too small even with eyeliner – which you wouldn’t have or wouldn’t need to have if you were truly A&F). On the plus side, your skin colour is ok and your smile is quite nice. And though your English level is great, your excessively long sentences make you seem way too uptight and un-chill relative to the rest of us. But as you’ve correctly pointed out, attitude and personality don’t matter.

This company is more rigid with its beauty standards than you value meritocracy, work ethic or “results” (from your perspective). Results is put in quotation marks because literally anyone can stock the shelves and create the displays, but only the selected ones have been chosen to represent the company in the storefront (even if you think they’re just by standing there and seemingly not doing anything).

Maybe you’d fit in better at another retail chain, such as Gap, H&M or Forever 21. Nothing, except your insecurities, chains you to our stores. And it is precisely your inability to create the same insecurities in other people that lead you to not be as valuable to the company as you think.

Hope this helps.

MY RARE RESPONSE:

Hey Evan,

Thanks for that. But to me all those features are part of being of African descent and I would never change them a bit.  I understand to the narrow minded,  my full lips might be an issue but that is none of my concern. And it’s worth considering that I was approached over 5 seperate times by as many managers in different malls to be a model in stores. Be aware that someone else’s opinion of your looks  might change for you just as it did with me.

I may have lengthy sentences ( blame my English teacher who urged us to complete our thoughts) but I’m not ever insecure about my looks. That ship sailed when I was 14. Never looked back knowing that people who will measure my value on my eye size or skin color “it’s okay” (thanks for that hearty laugh by the way) will always be around. I think what made your response even more funny (yet somewhat sad) was that it you seemed to have genuine concern and suggestion. Taking this up as if it were somehow your duty to inform those who you perceive as aesthetically challenged of their place; Not at Abercrombie.  That non inclusive attitude is what has the Company’s S&P 500 score plummeting and more stores closing every day. Have you noticed the 30min opens and 1 hr closes? Taking down shutters? Think about those actions and the implications therein. Suggested reading: your own company’s blog that explains a huge overhaul in operations and business structure asserting to continue store closures.

Thanks for corroborating the point that performance and results don’t matter at A&F but due to years of poor performance company wide, it will. So the second suggestion is to step up your contribution to your team and pray that your store isn’t on that closure list. If it is, maybe a store like Gap or Forever 21 would be viable options for you as well. Or continue to look in the mirror and praise yourself for being on the Tracker and looking the way you do as the walls of that company crumble around you, doesn’t matter.

Last suggestion: find value outside the ones A&F gives you. There was an “Asian” (far too broad a word for my taste I know what country he’s from) guy who’s looks other managers did not care for. Maybe they were ignorant and took issue with his nose or his eyes.  He continued to be bullied and asked for my help moving forward.  Two months ago I wrote his letter of recommendation to Stanford.  Somehow I think he will be fine without having Abercrombie’s approval.

I do have a job elsewhere ( look out for part 3&4).  They pay and treat me like a human being and then some to do the exact same job. Next week I fly to Geneva for the United Nations Human Rights council so yeah I’m fine without A&F. If you wake up from that FIERCE cologne induced haze, you will too.

Thanks for your concern,

  (But I’m good)

     Nicole

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