Monday, April 27, 2009

American Apparel is officially soft core pornography

...and I am officially boycotting this company.

Ok, so I own some of their stuff. In total, I have two v-necks, a gray dress, a brown leotard, two pair of track shorts, and some metallic silver snake skin leggings (that make my legs feel like they are in sausage casings and that I've only worn twice, but god damn do they look good on me and make me want to get doooown on the dance floor). And I'm not throwing away the items that I purchased from them almost a year ago because that would be straight wasteful, and I never throw clothes away in the first place. I donate. I'm actually wearing one of their shirts right now: a white v-neck that I wore with a white skirt and brown leather belt today because it was 90 freakin' degrees outside and I intended to reflect the rays of the scorching sun as much as possible. So please, don't try to call me a total reactionary or a hypocrite, because I do own some of the company's clothing, I do think that what I own is comfortable, and I am not getting rid of any of it just for my moral opposition to their advertisements. Oh, yeah, so if you were wondering why I'm embarking on this rant about American Apparel, it all stems from just that: their barely legal soft core pornography advertising campaign.

When I was in my early teenage years, my mom would not allow me to purchase a pair of Calvin Klein denim jeans because she was so opposed to the blatant female objectification and hegemonic, male-centric sexuality that was portrayed in their billboard and print ad campaigns. I'm pretty sure that if I had a teenage son or daughter today who wanted to give their money to a company that promoted such objectified images of women that did nothing to advertise the clothing and solely promoted a male-centric gaze toward the barely legal women featured in their ads, you can bet I would react in a similar fashion to my mother and exclaim an emphatic "no".

An example of said objectifying image from the lovely company in question:

This is a photograph from a slide show on the American Apparel website entitled "Britney wearing the Unisex Oversized See Thru T-Shirt". Surname-less, generic, blond Britney "wearing" a t-shirt laying on a bed with a come-hither look in her eyes is more asking the viewer to buy her body and not an item of clothing. I can't even tell if that's a t-shirt or a scarf, and as I buyer I would have no idea how the shirt actually fit a human body. And actually, based on this photo, she's about to not be wearing it in two seconds. And as a matter of fact, as the slide show goes on, there are, to my shock and amazement, blatantly displayed nipples (hover over the photograph for the slide show navigators to appear). Somehow, this smacks of a Playboy photo feature and not a clothing advertisement, don't you think?

Britney is in no way a single occurrence in this company's quest to push the limit of appropriateness. If you want more examples of crotch shots, vacant stares, take-me-from-behind poses, and near-nipple exposure, trust me, they are really easy to find. Please take note that none of these half- and near-naked slide shows feature men. The only male representation to be seen in the slide show section is of men going places for the company, doing things like dying t-shirts, and trying out different ways to wear a jacket, under which the model is surprisingly wearing pants. There are half-naked men modeling underwear, but that is to be expected; even Hanes does that kind of stuff. For a company that claims to be unisex, female customers are certainly getting the short end of the stick when it comes to advertisement eye candy (that's what I like to call sarcasm, kids). What I mean to say is: for a company that offers clothing for both men and women, their advertising is certainly geared toward the gaze of their male customer. Well, that's not being fair to all the women-loving women out there...let's just keep it simple and say that their advertising unabashedly depicts mostly women, not men, in a hyper-sexualized light. And it wouldn't be nearly as creepy if the brightly lit photographs didn't so closely resemble barely-legal pornography.

In short, I refuse to give another dime to this company. The inner fashionista in me might be crying this summer when she can't rock that fly light-weight jersey dress everyone else is sporting, but the gender equality side of me will hopefully just punch that stupid American-Apparel-craving hipster straight in the face and call it a day.

9 comments:

Elizabeth Marie said...

Hey girl...It's Liz (Leslie's ex-step daughter haha aren't families grand)..anyway, totally agree with you about AA...they've been disgusting me for years. Do you remember that article in JANE a few years ago? Foul.

I love your Morocco pictures and stories! Leslie just emailed me about visiting but I don't think I can afford it for awhile, so I'm living vicariously through you! :)

Katie said...

THANK you! I can't stand it when companies try to play the irony/hipster/"but we're just kidding" card in order to excuse sexism, objectification, racism, etc. Your excellent blog is inspiring me to get back on the blogging horse...we'll see how that goes.

Geoff said...

Two things: the boys are in on the act too...

http://theoryvsblog.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/american-apparel-pink-underwear1.jpg

And, this is on-topic...

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/14_american_apparel_models_freed

Katharine R. said...

From The Onion article: "Before I knew it, I was squatting on the floor in this humid room with a camera pointed at my crotch," said model Gabrielle, whose image can be found on the back page of this newspaper.

Totally critical of AA and yet self-deprecating at the same time! Brilliant.

deepthiw said...

Well said! I love that I can second Liz's q abt the Jane article and Geoff's Onion ref! AA is a joke of an "ethically" run company.

KendallMcK said...

Dov Charney can kiss my fat, tattooed ass (he hates tattoos and no AA employee can have them). That slideshow is just mindblowing - that woman is not "wearing" that shirt.

Geoff, men are not systematically sexualized, objectified, sexually assaulted, and generally seen as subhuman meat socks the world over, so Mr. Pink Panties there is not the same thing. Behavior isn't parallel when one participant is a member of a ruling class and the other a member of an oppressed class.

KJ, you will appreciate this:
I hate sweatshops. Now which one of you wants to suck my dick?

Geoff said...

Kendall, I absolutely agree that men are neither seen nor viewed in the same manner as women (both categorically and in representation) and I'm not attempting to make any comparison beyond tasteless visuals in the advertising of American Apparel. Beyond that, I'm not tying it to an over-arching idea nor am I willing to invite the wrath of those far more informed than myself on the subject. Your point is taken..."subhuman meat socks" and all.

kendallmck said...

Yeah, I was a little salty. Sorrys!

ayan said...

Yes, I ran afoul of their ad campagin today (after years of sheltered oblivion).

The result...
http://bheansidhe.livejournal.com/492298.html