Abercrombie hires only good looking people

From ‘Wrong to hire staff solely on looks’, 27 Aug 2011, ST Forum

(Bryan Chow): IT IS worrisome that the hiring practices of Abercrombie & Fitch have been confined to purely good looks (‘Abercrombie & Fitch on hunt for attractive staff’; Thursday). By choosing to adopt such discriminatory practices, the fashion icon is subscribing to the notion that outward appearance is the key to success.

Idolising the human body should not be institutionalised in any retail outlet. It is wrong for Abercrombie & Fitch to send a message to potential customers and markets that they do not approve of those whom they deem to be less attractive.

The store should understand that its recruitment practices are bound to affect the self-esteem of youngsters and shape their version of the perfect person. We should be trying to nurture a culture where the youth respect one another and are comfortable with who they are and not what society dictates of them.

Should the Government allow such overtly discriminatory hiring practices?

The arguments about job candidates chosen based on being born in a certain way and how unfair this is could go on forever. A n F is a brand renown for its blatant reliance on overt hypersexuality as a selling point. In fact, it’s probably better that A n F is upfront and honest about its criteria rather than wasting the time of unattractive people applying for a position which is basically glorified eye candy.  In spite of how companies like A n F claim to embrace diversity, what really matters, as everyone already knows deep down, is what works for its bottomline, which in this case so happens to be hunks and babes. Work ethic alone doesn’t cut it anymore, because employers have generally  succumbed to the grand illusion that is the ‘first impression’. Much research has been done on how important good looks factor in one’s self-confidence and earning power, and it’s hard to distinguish between cause and effect when it comes to explaining the relative success of attractive or tall people in other jobs in which being beautiful has no apparent relevance to the job at hand, be it law enforcement, business or even politics.

In the case of A n F, if all you need to qualify for the job is a 6 foot frame, a six-pec and a bronze tan, how is this any different from car show organisers  and lingerie makers hiring only lanky models? Why isn’t anyone complaining about the latter then?  Fashion icons engaging in coarse filtering of its staff is nothing new, in fact, you could even say they’re following by example the actions of a respectable public hospital which discriminates openly when it comes to cherry picking staff only of a certain BMI over other traits that make one a good health worker. We all hear of companies , be it public or private, sneakily hiring only family members, members of a certain religious or racial enclave, or fellow immigrants, all of which discriminatory on the basis of staff simply being ‘born this way’, so what’s so shocking or deleterious about hiring people based purely on looks? In fact, one needs to do more work maintaining a figure than simply be recognised by virtue of heredity.

Even if hiring based on superficial attributes is the standard practice here, anyone can even out the competition for ‘face value’ by undergoing cosmetic surgery these days, be it a tummy tuck, rhinoplasty, ab-sculpting or even Lasik if their goal in life is to stand outside the store premises and get ogled at for a living. So, if there are people out there already willing to sell their souls to a lifelong addiction to plastic surgery in exchange for a dream job, A n F’s recruitment policy is merely a drop in the ocean of an increasingly image-driven and self-obsessed society on the downward spiral. You don’t need A n F to foster this harmful ‘perfect’ image, you see it happening for the longest time in books, magazines , film and television.  It explains the booming plastic surgery and self-help industries, blockbuster antidepressants and Tony Robbins. We will continue to be a discontented, envious and chronically imperfect lot, suffering endlessly trying to live up to manufactured ideals, with or without A n F’s hiring practices and their lewd topless Orchard Road posters.

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