December 8, 2014
The Time Is Now
It’s no secret that we live in a hyper-sexualized culture, that depression and eating disorders are at an all time high, and that the age of people affected by these disorders is at an all time low. Although women are the ones largely affected by these ailments, the number of males experiencing these disorders has skyrocketed in recent years. The media is grabbing a hold of people’s minds and American Apparel is part of the problem.
As stated on their website, American Apparel is the largest clothing manufacturer in the United States. Since opening in 1989, they have expanded to 19 countries with over 300 locations worldwide. Dov Charney founded the company when he was just 20 years old and has since made quite a name for himself and the company.
On americanapparel.net there is a complete archive of all their different ads starting in 1995. After looking through them, it was very obvious the common theme between them all: complete or almost-complete nudity, extremely suggestive and pornographic body language, and disembodiment. It was extremely hard to narrow it down, because there were so many options, but the ads I found most irritating were: The first print ad “Meet Melissa”, is trying to covey the idea that American Apparel uses real women to advertise. What it really should read is “Meet Melissa’s breasts!” It doesn’t even show us her face. Almost as if to say, “Meet Melissa, the only substantial thing about her is her breasts, after all, that’s all anyone really cares about.” The text goes on to explain, “she won an unofficial wet t-shirt contest held at the American Apparel apartment in Montreal.” The issue I have with this is that they were having a wet t-shirt contest, unofficial or not. Modeling is her job, it is a profession and should be treated as such. As if having a wet t-shirt contest on a business trip wasn’t inappropriate enough, a photographer just so happened to be there to capture the event. There is obviously something more going on behind this story and I’m not so sure I even want to find out what.
The second image is a print ad -not for panties- but for retail locations! Unless one of the stores is located in the man’s pants I’m not finding the connection with this picture. Even if this was an ad for panties I would still be extremely appalled at the pornographic pose she has taken- in between the man’s legs, pulling at his underwear with her tongue out. If that isn’t suggestive I don’t know what is.
The final ad is apparently an ad for jeans, although you wouldn’t know it from the picture, because it doesn’t show her wearing the jeans! In fact, it doesn’t show her wearing anything. The strategically placed period on “jeans” is the only thing somewhat covering her. Another problem with this ad is that she appears to be an early adolescent. Because she is so tiny, has on minimal makeup, and is wearing a scrunchie in her hair she looks very young. This is not the only time someone has noticed young looking women in American Apparel advertisements. BBC News reports that in 2009 the Advertising Standards Authority banned American Apparel from publishing the ad of a young model who looked under 16, and partially revealed her nipple (“Semi-Nude”). My question is: if the image of a sexualized young-looking woman could cause enough offence to reader that they would ban the ad, then why wouldn’t a nude 25 year-old woman cause the same effect? Subliminally it has the same impact on the people who see it, whether she looks young or old, it is still all sexualization.
Not only were all of these women extremely sexualized, they all were extremely skinny. Girls and women are bombarded every day with all these images of rail thin women and think, “In order to be sexy, successful, popular, etcetera- I need to look like that”. This is why I don’t find it surprising that according to the South