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Simona Melandovich
Eng 115
Vana Derohanessian
26 November 2014

The Look
Get the look! This is a frequently heard phrase by people all around the world
in the modern day regardless of gender, age, or race. However, what exactly is the
look? What defines this look? It is no surprise that each and every person is judged
based on their appearance, however people fail to recognize the effects of such a shallow
standard that modern society has incorporated into its everyday regime. A girl can be
made fun of and put down because she wears glasses, or a boy bullied for being
overweight, or a woman being denied a job simply because she does not match the look
of the company. In 2003, a popular company known to the public as Abercrombie and
Fitch was taken to suit by nine adults who claimed to be denied employment at the
company based on their physical appearance and race. In 2008, another suit was filed
when a Muslim woman claimed to be denied employment because she wore a headscarf.
Society has become quite ignorant and has conformed to an all-American basis of
appearance; the traditional American look is portrayed by someone who is white or fair
skinned, has light hair, bright colored eyes, someone who is young and has a thin
physique and fit frame. Discrimination based on physical appearance is an ongoing issue
and conflict of debate in todays workforce and it is cruel and unjust. Prejudice against
appearance and race should no longer be an issue in the modern day, specifically in the

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workplace. There will always be someone who lives by traditional American values,
however this bias should not be allowed anywhere, especially in a public area of
employment.
Many retail workplaces, specifically Abercrombie and Fitch, openly practice
discrimination against appearances that dont suit the look of their brand, which strives
to portray the all-American look. The 2003 lawsuit in San Francisco known as
Gonzales vs. Abercrombie and Fitch Stores mentioned earlier tried Abercrombie stores
with selling so-called "classic" looks and practicing a classic form of discrimination
against African-American, Latino and Asian American applicants and
employees(NAACP). The company openly practiced racism when hiring employees to
represent their brand. Abercrombie and Fitch representatives target only a specific group
or audience when it comes to seeking employees. Jennifer Lu, a University of California
Irvine student and a former employee at the Abercrombie Costa Mesa location, states that
people couldn't get a job, or were fired because their look was not consistent with the
store's look which consisted mostly of Caucasian, football-looking, blonde-hair, blueeyed males; skinny, tall (Leung). Other former employees of Abercrombie and Fitch
complained that they had to lie to new employees when asked about hours saying, Oh,
we don't have hours, when really it's because they weren't pretty enough (Leung).
Abercrombie hires those who fall into the category of particular predominately white
fraternities or sororities because that is the also the audience they are trying to reach.
However, it is illegal and unjust to hire someone based on their appearance and more
specifically skin color, and people should be evaluated based off their abilities rather than
whether or not they are attractive.

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CBS News describes Abercrombies salespeople as young and attractive as
well as overwhelmingly white. Bill Lann Lee, an attorney, coordinated a class action
suit on behalf of potentially hundreds of former Abercrombie workers and job applicants
who have charged that the company engages in institutionalized racism(Leung). Lee
stated, if an African American person applies for a job at Abercrombie and Fitch, theres
a great chance that that application will be thrown in the trash bin(Leung). In addition,
defendants in the case stated, they want to prefer whites because their customers are
happier(Leung). The defendants in this case must have forgotten that their customers are
also people of diverse cultures and come from a variety of racial backgrounds. In addition
to their blatant racism, Abercrombie is actually hindering the success of their company.
How could America, a country that was initially known for its diversity, become so
negligent and ignorant towards cultures that do not appear to be predominantly white?
Applicants are most of the time not even granted an interview and are sent away without
even a chance of being considered for employment. Abercrombies stand on racism
doesnt seem like such a surprise considering its all-American, white image,
however, this image does not change the illegal aspect of the matter. Racism is not
simply wrong it is an unjustifiable crime.
Many may believe that it is completely acceptable for a company to decide what their
targeting image and audience is and that they should be able to freely express such an
image. However, what they fail to realize is that their wish to withhold a particular image
is defying the entire standard of freedom and equality for all set by the United States
Constitution. A defendant of Abercrombie and Fitch stated that, A&F ought to have the
right to set their own policies for good or for ill and provided an accurate observation of

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another business with a similar goal. They explained, there's a restaurant called Hooters
that requires you to have certain kinds of physical accouterments and I think people
understand that (Leung). Although they make an accurate point about Hooters hiring
certain clientele to attract a specific audience, they fail to realize that the goal of
Abercrombie and Fitch is to establish a sentiment for American culture and this sentiment
should not comprise of racism and prejudice against cultural religious groups.
Abercrombie and Fitch inadequately represent the gist of the American diversity and
freedom of expression that the USA claims to have granted. They strive for the outdated
and conventional belief that all should look alike, act alike, and anyone that falls outside
of such boundaries is considered an outcast.
Porochista Khakpour, an Iranian-born American journalist and author of Reality
TV Goes Where Football Meets the Hijab, experienced similar judgment growing up a
Muslim girl in an American society which was all new to her. When Khakpour was in
high school, she would often audition for school plays for she felt the need to be involved
in activities; however, she almost always played a villain or an outcast (Khakpour 1).
She states, she knew by then that heroines were fair and that dark skin, dark eyes,
and dark hair always equaled trouble and implied a dark side(Khakpour 2). Due to her
constant isolation from the predetermined state of normal she claimed to gravitate
toward the freak, the outsider, the antagonist, and the one who did not belong and all
this simply because her appearance did not match societys distorted perception of
normal (Khakpour 2). Khakpour was cast out as a freak due to her appearance being
different from what was normally accepted; Abercrombie performs the exact same act of
prejudice against their employees. The company faced yet another law suit in 2008 when

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a Muslim applicant Samantha Elauf applied for a job in the company's Tulsa, Okla.,
children's clothing store and was denied because she wore a religious headscarf that
didnt match the look of the brand (Jost). Companies like Abercrombie do not
exemplify what society should be like based on newly founded American ideals: in fact
they do the complete opposite. Those that practice such discrimination either ignore the
applicants entirely or to avoid more lawsuits, they hire the undesirable applicant and
provide them with undesirable positions to keep them out of the public eye (NAACP).
Not only are the companies denying basic human rights to diverse individuals, but also
they are casting them away from sight as if they were some sort of despicable animal.
They practice racist and discriminatory behavior as well as encourage it by demonstrating
their look to all and sending an awfully nasty message to those who aspire to belong.
Although conclusions to the cases above claim to provide diversity training for
all employees with hiring authority, it is not enough to stop the ongoing prejudice and
despicable action against minorities by employers (NAACP). Abercrombie needs to face
the fact that the true message of their company lies within the ideals of conformity and
sameness rather than the diversity and individuality America claims as its goal. If they
truly believe in an all- American image, they must realize that it would require them to
essentially include all Americans regardless of their physical appearance, racial
background, and cultural standing. Discrimination is wrong and hurtful and by
purchasing and supporting retailers such as Abercrombie, we oblige to the very same
racist and bigoted principles they possess.

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Works Cited
Jost, Kenneth. "Access to Restricted Resources." CSUN Library. N.p., 7 Nov. 2014. Web.
26 Nov. 2014.
Khakpour, Porochista. "Reality TV Goes Where Football Meets the Hijab." The New
York Times. The New York Times, 12 Nov. 2011. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.
Leung, Rebecca. "The Look Of Abercrombie & Fitch." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 5
Dec. 2003. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.
NAACP Legal Defense Fund : Defend, Educate, Empower." Abercrombie & Fitch
Employment Discrimination. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, 17
June 2003. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.