Jes Baker is arguably the best thing to come out of Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries making inflammatory comments about "uncool" overweight teens essentially being banned from wearing his clothing. Even though Jeffries apologized for his comment in recent days, Baker took the opportunity to write to the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO to tell him the world is evolving to be inclusive, instead of exclusive the way he markets his brand to be, while also including pictures of her modeling one of his shirts with a male model. So what's the big deal? Baker is one of those people Jeffries wants left out of the Abercrombie brand.
She began with a letter to the 68-year-old, where she addressed the harsh reality: There are plenty of people who feel the way he does. But Baker feels the complete opposite. In an exclusive interview with the International Business Times, the 26-year-old writer from Tuscon, Ariz., opened up about her Abercrombie & Fitch-inspired photo shoot, where she wore one of the company's T-shirts with "Attractive and Fat" displayed in the background.
According to Baker, the word fat is just a description and not something people should be ashamed of. In fact, she chooses to call herself fat to "de-stygmatize" the word. "Fat is just a word describing my body," she said. "I feel comfortable using it." She chooses to call herself a fat model.
In her letter to the CEO, Baker said on her blog TheMilitantBaker.com: "Never in our culture do we see sexy photo shoots that pair short, fat, unconventional models with not short, not fat, professional models," she wrote. "To put it in your words: 'unpopular kids' with 'cool kids.' It's socially acceptable for same to be paired with same, but never are contrasting bodies positively mixed in the world of advertisement. The juxtaposition of uncommonly paired bodies is visually jarring, and, even though I wish it didn’t, it causes viewers to feel uncomfortable." Baker added, "This is largely attributed to companies like yours that perpetuate the thought that fat women are not beautiful. This is inaccurate, but if someone were to look through your infamous catalog, they wouldn't believe me."
Baker is helping to show that women of all sizes are beautiful, as proof by the media attention she's gotten from her blog post and the pictures she took while wearing an Abercrombie shirt. The Arizona native explained the shirt is actually really comfortable and she still has it today.
So why did she do this in the first place? "Fat bodies are never acceptable," Baker began. She described herself as someone that likes to "poke the fire" and essentially get a rise out of people. Though she didn't expect the amount of media attention she's received, she's grateful for it, and provided some tips for girls, no matter their size, who hate their bodies.
"I challenge vulnerable women to surround themselves with alternative media," she said. "This way they can stay body positive because we are all self-critics." The Internet can be a really discouraging place, but it can also be a vessel for self-discovery and acceptance. Baker suggested finding blogs and other outlets to follow that have positive vibes.
According to her latest blog post, the trailblazer will be appearing on NBC's "Today" show to talk about her letter to Jeffries and her Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot. Check out her blog on TheMilitantBaker.com.