Author Sara Humphreys vs Ambercrombie & Fitch

Barbara Vey -- May 15th, 2013
Sara Humphreys

Sara Humphreys

I met author Sara Humphreys at my Reader Appreciation luncheon for the first time and was quickly taken in by her wit and charm.  Last week, she became my hero.

Abercrombe & Fitch CEO Mr. Jeffries said in Salon, “”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. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

Sara Humphrey’s fired back a response in the Huffington Post (which has received over 790 comments).  She took issue with the fact that Mr. Jeffries was sending out a bullying mentality.

“Shame on you for perpetuating the bully on the playground mentality, in the online community and with our youth. The message you are sending is reprehensible and an appalling waste of an opportunity. You could have chosen to use your power and position to promote tolerance and love. Instead, you chose to promote and validate bullies. Your campaign is telling our young people that it’s perfectly acceptable to exclude someone because of the size of their body.

Since when does being thin make someone a good person? All it makes you is thin. Being thin doesn’t necessarily make someone healthy either. In fact, comments like yours only encourage young girls to starve themselves so they can meet some stupid standard that small-minded men like you perpetuate.”

Her message has gotten over 154,000 Likes, over 35,000 shares (on Facebook), 439 Tweets.



Sara Humphreys has now come under attack for her book covers showing “buff” men.  As any author knows, book covers are chosen by the publisher.  The fact that Sara writes about vampires (which the last time I checked is fantasy) explains the body type used on the covers.  Really, has anyone ever seen a non-buff guy on the cover of a hot vampire book?  Sara recently wrote a blog to counter the negative responses and you can read it here.


I also love that Sara did this video as a follow up.



Sara sums up her feelings by saying:

“It’s not about fat vs. thin or boy body image vs. girl body image.

It’s about kindness vs. cruelty.

We have a choice in how we message to our young people and, in my opinion, he chose wrong.”

It wasn’t easy for Sara to put herself out there, but she said what a lot of us were thinking.  We owe it to our children to talk about things going on in the home, the community, the town, the state, the country and the world.

Bottom Line:  It’s much easier to be kind than cruel and it feels better too.




30 thoughts on “Author Sara Humphreys vs Ambercrombie & Fitch

  1. Blurbette Heidi

    Sara deserves so much more than applause, she deserves a medal!!

    Good for her to speak her mind, especially to a bully.

    I hope the FB campaign to get her on the Ellen Show, (since being bumped by the Today Show for some stupid reason), comes to reality.

    I am honored to have met her at Barbara’s luncheon this year. Thanks Barbara for this post.

  2. Stephanie Scott

    Way to go Sara!

    I do think that bringing up her book’s cover art is a valid counterpoint. To say that authors don’t choose the cover, although true, ends up sounding more like an excuse (sorry). But I’m glad you included her response since she shares about the CHARACTERS in her book, which are far from perfect. I’ve ignored the buff guy/hot girl books for years because I assumed the writing would match the cheesy cover, but I’ve since found that many of those books, the covers do the story a great disservice. I guess maybe a shirtless guy sells more, but for me it’s a turn off. I can see why this was an easy counterpoint to latch on to, which points to other issues really, and not what the author’s original commentary was about. But that’s the internet for you.

    If it’s been awhile since you really got stirred up with rage, read the comments section after just about any article on a mainstream publication. Double the rage points if the article is about anything with a hint of controversy.

    1. Seleste deLaney

      Actually, it’s not a valid argument anyway. No one is saying A&F can’t use thin, beautiful people to model their clothes (the equivalent of a book cover). The issues are that they choose to exclude certain people from USING their products because of appearance.

      An appropriate comparison would be if the publisher said only people of a certain appearance/size/pick-your-descriptor could read her books.

      One is about selling, the other is about buying.

  3. Tom Luce

    And even beyond cover art is content. Several years ago I asked about Romance book heroes and suggested that perhaps there could be a guy who was short, wore glasses, was 20 pounds overweight or an accountant who could still win a woman’s heart and then win the woman. Not too long after that (coincidentally, I’m sure) Vicki Lewis Thompson launched her Nerd series which featured men who weren’t all buff alpha males. I personally loved The Nerd Who Loved Me and handsold many copies. Just a nod to the notion that even the ordinary amongst us can get our HEA as well.

    1. Terri Patrick

      I believe the ordinary among us have an easier time achieving our HEA because WE define what that looks like. Those who define their happiness with brand names and body types are often discontent and jumping into the next fad.

  4. Kathryn Hughett

    Barbara, I like the way you encapsulated everything Sara did in response to the A&F article on this webpage. I followed Sara as this was all going down on my timeline. I had never read any of Sara’s book prior to the luncheon but she was on my TBR list. I was able to have lunch at her table. I now have all of her Amoveo series and am in the 2nd book. Thank you for for enabling me to meet such a lovely person.

  5. Maggie Mae Gallagher

    Sara was a real treat to meet at the Reader Appreciation Lunch and I applaud her for having the courage to call out the A&F CEO for his horribly crude remarks. As someone who was bullied because I wasn’t quite the definition of beauty, it helps to meet others who have experienced the same treatment and triumphed.

  6. Bertrice Small

    Good for Sara Humpreys! She’s absolutely right.

    As for book covers I’ve explained to my readers for years that authors have virtually no imput where covers are concerned. When you’ve been around as long as I have – and made as much fuss as I have re covers – you do get asked at least what the principal characters “look” like. But you have no input into what is finally chosen. And honestly, how many readers would purchase a book that showed a cover with unattractive people on it? Have any of us ever met someone like those book cover studs?
    And consider that the artist is making them look ever more “studly”. Our novels are fiction. The guys on the covers illusions, fantasies, etc. They both sell books. And selling books is the name of the game. Don’t you expect to get paid for your work? So do authors, and whatever helps I’m all for. Even studly studs.

  7. Christie

    I try NOT to judge a book by its cover because we all know how hokey some of them have been over the years; the ‘studs’ on the covers of Sara Humphreys books are hardly controversial to anyone in the romance world. I’ve used fabric book covers to hide terrible covers since they frequently don’t reflect what’s going on inside the book. Of course with downloading books no one sees the cover but the reader anyway.

    Otherwise: what surprised me about A&F is not that they are marketing or branding their company towards a certain segment of the population or that they have an ‘image’ they want to project. Companies do that. Have you looked at Ralph Lauren or Dior ads? Even the Old Navy commercials do that. It’s that the CEO was so remarkably stupid and blatant about who they’re allegedly targeting in his comments–and how he phrased it. Considering the financial troubles A&F has had, I’m sure that PR/marketing wanted to rip out his tongue.

    1. Christie

      Oh, and if you read the entire Salon article, CEO Jeffries comes across as a creepy freak, no matter how ‘brilliant’ the business community seems to think he is. (I stand corrected since A&F is now making money.) Made me want to take a shower after reading the interview.

  8. Barbara

    Ms. Humphreys is not the only one going after Abercrombie. Just saw Kirstie Alley is as well. As for the covers of her books, she’s only stating the publishing company designs the covers. It’s been that way for years. Personally, my taste has always run to the offbeat. I was apparently attracted to the Oscar Madison character as a teen because I thought both Walter Matthau and Jack Klugman were attractive. Of course, that seemed to be confirmed when Matthau starred in House Calls and Klugman starred in Quincy. I was also attracted to Tom Conti after seeing him in American Dreamer with JoBeth Williams. The plotline was great for any book lover. The JoBeth Williams character was so enamored with a heroine from a book that when she’s knocked on the head, she wakes up thinking she’s the character and sets out to solve a mystery. It was a really cute movie. I wish Ms. Humphreys all the luck in the world. As for Abercrombie, I think they’re prices are just as obnoxious as the CEO’s snobbery.

    1. Christie

      Oh, a fellow American Dreamer fan! How I love that movie–even if the ’80s hairstyles and fashions now make me giggle. And Tom Conti–honestly, what a droll doll.

  9. Joan Schulhafer

    Thanks adding to the conversation about this. He obviously meant what he said- and -I assume–chose not to seek pr counsel before saying it. Which underscores the likelihood it’s the corporate-wide viewpoint, though never meant to be articulated so clumsily.Joan

  10. Kym Lucas

    Great post, Barbara. Ellen Degeneres also did a brief monologue on this subject, worth watching.

    Good for these two women who are standing up to the bully of A&F. Hearing his comments made me proud of my 18-year-old daughter who has always refused to wear their clothes — even when found at garage sales and Goodwill (our primary shopping grounds).

    And kudos to you for sharing.


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