TODAY

TODAY   |  May 22, 2013

Blogger takes on Abercrombie over weight comments

In response to Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries’ comments about plus-sized shoppers in his stores, blogger Jes A. Baker, who is a size 22, posed for striking photos wearing Abercrombie clothing. She talks to TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie about why she chose to take a stand.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> now and talk about a growing backlash this morning against the retailer abercrombie & fitch . old comments from its ceo have recently resurfaced and they're not sitting well with some people. so now one woman is firing back with strong words and some creative photos. we're going to talk to her in just a moment. but first, more on the uproar. big is beautiful, says size 22 jess a. baker, who's taking on a plus-sized firestorm by posing for these striking photos. in a public letter to abercrombie & fitch ceo jeffries, the blogger writes, "i was inspired by the opportunity to show i am secure in my skin. not only do i know that i'm sexy, but i also have the confidence to pose nude in ways you don't dare." her bold move comes on the heels of the recent uproar over abercrombie 's refusal to sell women's clothing in big sizes. fuelling the fire, a 2006 interview that recently resurfaced, where the ceo said, "candidly, we go after the cool kids . are we exclusionary? absolutely."

>> it made my blood boil when he said, we want the cool kids . you know, look, there are cool kids and there are not cool kids , and it's not acceptable for an adult to, you know, blast that out to the world.

>> reporter: ceo jeffries addressed his previous comments last week, stating, "i sincerely regret that my choice of words were interpreted in a manner that have caused offense." and on tuesday, abercrombie executives met with critics. in a statement, the company told nbc news in part, "we look forward to continuing this dialogue and taking concrete steps to demonstrate our commitment to anti-bullying in addition to our ongoing support of diversity and inclusion." "we want to reiterate that we sincerely regret and apologize for any offense caused by comments we have made in the past which are contrary to these values." as for jess baker, she calls this an incredible opportunity for social change . and that blogger, jess baker, is with us now. jess, good morning. it's good to see you.

>> good morning,s thanks.

>> we saw some of these photos, you kind of re-imaged the a&f acronym and called your photo shoot , attractive and fat. what were you hoping to accomplish?

>> i think that was the creativity of my friend and photographer. i think i wanted to not replicate, but kind of show what it would look like to have a plus-sized model in that scenario. i think that fashion is incredibly political when you're fat, and to take the sexuality that's found in abercrombie ads and apply that to a fat person as well is just taking it one step further.

>> well, they're beautiful photographs. what are you hoping to get out of it? do you think the company should offer larger sizes?

>> i don't think it's really actually about putting extra large shirts in stores at all. i think it's about a much larger issue. i wanted to tell you just about this moment of the photo shoot that was the part where it clicked for me. and ewe were doing the really cool photos that were against the wall. i was with john, who is an incredible human being , in general. and they were taking our pictures and being awesome. and when she did this particular pose, she said, beautiful, beautiful, and just kept taking pictures. and john looked down and he grinned and he said, did you know we're beautiful? and i was like, well, that is exactly what this is about, is eliminating the differentiation between cool kids and not cool kids . not using the versus when it comes to pretty versus ugly and not separating attractive and fat.

>> these statements from the ceo are from 2006 .

>> right.

>> and it sounds like they backed off them a bit. does that satisfy you? do you feel like the company has done enough? are you trying to single out this company or you trying to just use this as an opportunity to talk about this issue?

>> definitely. this isn't anything unique or something that i haven't heard before, something that we don't see before. this has been going on ever since our economy and history has collided, we back before the 1920s . and so it's brilliant for advertising. and it's been going on for a very long time. it's not necessary in a healthy society. so that's what i'm more interested in.

>> one of the things you wrote to the company is, the only thing you've done through your comments about thin being beautiful and only offering xl and xxl in your stores for men is reinforce the unoriginal concept that fat women are social failures, valueless, and undesirable. your apology doesn't change this. let me be devil's advocate for a moment. shouldn't the company be able to market to whomever it wants to market to?

>> yes. and that's where the money's at. and it's a profitable move. i don't think that it is doing us any favors, though, to come out and say that, only because we hear it so often anyways. i feel like it just further perpetuates the issue that we already have at hand.

>> jess, your pictures are lovely to look at. thank you for being here and sharing your story. we appreciate it.