Ralph Lauren – CEO
Scott Myers – Marketing Director
Michael Morelli – VP of Advertising
David Lauren – SVP of Advertising
Laura Johnson- Public Relations Manager
Trecia Laird- Senior Marketing Manager
Hello Mr. Lauren,
To introduce myself to you, my name is Darryl Roberts and let me start off by saying I used to wear Polo Shirts when I was in high school. Back in the Stone Age before laptops, cell phones and You Tube. The Polo symbol represented elegance and a certain kind of refinement. That’s how I remember you. A class act. A gentleman’s gentleman.
That’s why it’s a little hard for me to understand your present stance against women. What, I can already hear you saying, am I talking about?
If you believe for one second that your personal views and the views/advertising of your company aren’t perceived as the same, you’re absolutely wrong.
Let me explain myself if you don’t mind. I spent the last 5 years making a documentary called America the Beautiful, that deals with America’s unhealthy obsession with beauty. The film has screened in 187 cities in the US and played in 7 other countries.
While traveling with the film, thousands of women have told me that the images of the super skinny models in magazines make them feel bad. I can hear you thinking, Well why don’t they put the magazines down if they make them feel bad? That is a worthwhile conversation to be had later. For now we have more pressing matters to attend to.
When this incident first appeared in the press you thumbed your nose at us all and said Filippa Hamilton violated her contract. After getting better council, you realized this debacle could hurt your bottom line, and you gave this statement:
For over 42 years we have built a brand based on quality and integrity. After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body. We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the caliber of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.
After being forgiven for this hideous infraction against women, what do you do? You do it again. The mainstream press doesn’t know about this one yet, but I do…
This is horrible Ralph. But instead of cutting your losses while you’re ahead, what do you go and do?
You do it a third time! UNBELIEVABLE!
I see the man in the picture hasn’t been drastically distorted. Just the women.
I get about 500 emails a week from young women complaining about images just like these Ralph.
If that doesn’t move you, here’s an email from a concerned father that I received 4 days ago:
I met you last year in Naperville, IL at the Candle Light Vigil at the Arabella House and we talked briefly afterwards. Last night my wife, XXXX and I watched your film. It is the most awesome movie that I’ve ever seen. The amount of time, sweat, blood, and tears that you put into this has probably changed your life forever.
Our 22 year old daughter, XXXXXX has been trying to deal with bulimia, addictions, abuse for the past 5 years. She somehow survived an attempt on her life 3 years ago (200 extra strength Tylenols) and has been in and out of 3 treatment centers since then. This disease has completely fractured my family. I have two other kids that have given up on their sister. My wife and I are hanging in there together. We have exhausted our home equity and retirement accounts trying to keep her alive, but we have become enablers. This beast has such a strong hold on XXXXXX that I don’t think that she wants to get better any longer. We gave her a deadline of Nov 28 to seek a structured treatment program or she is no longer able to live with us. On top of this her employer is going to give her a choice today of going into a treatment program or being fired. This is probably going to put her over the edge. I’m feeling so desperate and I can’t do anything about it. Even if I had unlimited resources, it would not help until XXXXXX decides she wants to recapture her life. She is a former high school scholar athlete and earned a basketball scholarship to XXXXXXX College before her addictions took control of her life.
I’m sending this note to you because I feel that you are making a difference by preventing some young women from the illnesses that my beautiful daughter, XXXXXX, has become a victim of.
I really appreciate your hard work and vision!
But wait, it gets even stranger…
I recently found out that you have a niece, Jenny Lauren, who suffered from a horrible eating disorder. Your niece was so lonely and afraid during her terrible struggle that she wrote a book called “Homesick.”
In case you’ve forgotten about your niece and her struggle, here are some quotes from her book:
I am twenty-four years old, and for a year I have been in physical discomfort. That is 365 days with my butt twitching and an inability to contract my gluteus maximus muscles…365 days of wanting to jump out the window, 365 days watching the entire lower half of my body turn into jelly and atrophy. This is a sick joke.
I’m trying so hard not to lose my mind…
…after such pain, I need a tangible answer.
Ugh, and taking a shit (vulgar no matter how you put it) is like giving birth, with the baby’s head getting stuck for hours.
I can’t exercise at all, can’t even walk comfortably.
I would panic most mornings and rush up to 87th Street and Park and sit and wait in Dr. W’s office, sometimes for hours, to see him. As I sat there holding my breath and clenching my legs together to stop the twitch, I’d rummage through the pile of magazines, flipping through all the fashion ads. Oh, there’s Uncle Ralph with his two dogs in a Purple Label ad. Whadda ya know, there he is again. Not his face but a Ralph Lauren fragrance ad with a young beautiful couple wrapped in velvet and in love. The good life, huh?…things to aspire to. Reminding me of everything I hated, everything I loved, everything I wished I could be…but that was then. Look at me now.”
Ralph, I’m writing this on behalf of 100,000 parents and young women and we’re requesting that you stop. Give it a break. Put a lid on it. No more empty apologies. No yadda, yadda, yadda. Just stop!
Tens of thousands of parents and young women have emailed me asking what should they do. Should they stop buying your products? Should they picket outside of your flagship NY store?
I don’t know the answer to that question Ralph. What would you have them do?
What I’m hoping by writing this is underneath your desire to make even more millions and make the Ralph Lauren empire even bigger, that you have compassion. That you remember the pain your niece went through. That you care about all the young girls out here struggling and dying from eating disorders. That you actually care about all the young women with a low self-esteem from body image issues.
I realize that images like yours in magazines aren’t the only reason that girls get eating disorders and feel bad about their bodies, but they are a factor.
Why be like the rest of the designers Ralph? Wouldn’t it really make a statement if you did things differently. Show us that the Ralph Lauren brand stands for something more than photoshopped skinny models. Show us that you really care about the people that buy your products.
Until you do, I won’t buy anything with the RL logo on it. You can take that to the bank. I was shopping for bedding accessories and furniture yesterday at Bloomingdales and I saw an entire section of your products. I walked right past it. See, I actually care about the young girls suffering out here.
So, what’s it going to be Ralph? It’s your conscience. Your decision.