On Beauty: White Hot, White Noise, And Are Beauty Standards Really Better Now?

Rosalyn Morris
7 min readMay 12, 2022
Photo by Jessica Felicio on Unsplash

So, I recently watched the Netflix documentary, White Hot. It’s about mall retail chain, Abercrombie & Fitch, and it’s deplorable hiring practices back in the early 2000’s to around 2013.

In the end, the store had to atone for its hiring practices, of only hiring the young, white, and attractive, and the provocative images it used to sell its clothes by now offering larger sizes and putting images like this, and other more wholesome ones, on its website…

from Abercrombie & Fitch website

Abercrombie & Fitch used to be known for their ads, in black and white, that showed naked and half-naked bodies, in provocative poses.

They also had to pay millions in class-action lawsuits.

Then CEO Mike Jeffries operated the store by this motto, and I quote: “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong (in our clothes), and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

By all-American, he meant white, thin, and traditionally good looking with symmetrical features. There was even a book with pictures of people that let stores know what to look for, and what not to look for.

The store and its practices were racist and elitist, and decidedly so…

Even though Jeffries made these comments in 2006, there wasn’t public backlash until 2013 — seven years later. This is reflective of a shift in what’s culturally acceptable and what’s not.

In the past, it was “cool” to be exclusive, and society has shifted to being more accepting of people and their differences, at least on paper. Whereas whiteness and thinness used to be the “norm,” people have been fighting in the last decade, or so, to be inclusive of all people regardless of size…

Rosalyn Morris