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3 On Your Side: Too Big To Shop?

by Natasha Brown

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - They are sexy, curvy and full-bodied celebrities.

Like singing sensation Adele and actresses Queen Latifah and Christine Hendricks from Mad Men.

But they're all probably too big to shop at a popular retail chain.

And you may be too.

At this store, there are strict limits on sizes.

And that policy is drawing howls of protest on the internet.

Natasha Brown has a 3 On Your Side special report.

Abercrombie & Fitch is a store known for its ads showing the buff and the beautiful.

But now a not-so-pretty image of the company is going viral on the internet with a video encouraging people to donate their Abercrombie & Fitch clothing to the homeless.

And the company's Facebook page is receiving negative comments.

The outcry is over the chain's refusal to offer larger sizes for women, even though competitors like American Eagle and H&M do.

One of their ads even features a plus-sized model.

It's an issue that's been around for years, but made news again recently because of a Business Insider article which included comments reportedly made by A&F CEO Mike Jeffries, made in 2006.

In that 2006 interview with Salon Magazine Jeffries reportedly said, "Candidly, we go after the cool kids....a lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

Robin Lewis is author of The New Rules Of Retail.

"Jeffries is very focused on marketing to a very narrowly defined consumer group that would be, in anybody's terms, defined as young, sexy and cool," said Lewis.

But could a young and beautiful professional model shop there?

Philly model Cheryl Royall is a very average size 12.

She agreed to go shopping undercover at Abercrombie & Fitch with 3 On Your Side.

In Cherry Hill, Cheryl asked the store manager for a size 12 in a pair of shorts and jeans she picked out.

"I don't actually have the 12 in either piece," he told her.

"Do you usually have the size 12," Cheryl asked him.

"The highest we go for a female is 10 right now," he said.

Only up to a size 10 for women's jean's and shorts.

Tops run from extra small to large.

No XL even though you can find that and XXL in some men's clothing.

The best they could offer Cheryl was a scarf!

"I noticed your beautiful scarf," the A&F manager said to her. "We have a lot of scarves, brand new for our summer season."

"It was offensive because I'm not a big person and there's no reason why if i asked for jeans he would offer me a scarf in exchange, as if that's going to appease me," she said.

"It's ridiculous and it does tremendous damage to these kids," said Dr. Lindsay Breeden who specializes in eating disorders at the Renfrew Center in Philadelphia.

"It's high time that we took a look at this and use this as an opportunity to really think about what our values are as a culture," said Dr. Breeden.

As for Cheryl's message to Abercrombie & Fitch.

"I would really say you need to change your ways," she said.

3 On Your Side called and emailed Abercrombie and Fitch for comment, but we never heard back.

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