More Hell, Fewer Dahlias: The Musings of a Radical Feminist.

American Apparel (Or: No, I can’t let this go.)

Posted on: February 15, 2010


So American Apparel, rolled out a new ad fairly recently.  I know you’re probably wondering what the next teenage boy fantasy masquerading as an ad includes, I mean, they have a youtube channel that pretty much involves bootyshaking, what else can they come up with?

Full on breast exposure, that’s what! Nipples included.

Now I am very far from an anti sex feminist. I’m even pro-sex…I’m down with legalizing prostitution, making porn a safer industry, and curbing the abuses in the sex industry instead of pretending they’ll go away if we keep the Good Girls ignorant of their bodies and safe sex, for starters. Not to mention how the eroticizing of the female body has made it impossible to pass or maintain equal coverage standards in the United States. (Sorry, that’s another post, back to this one.)

But something was pissing me off about this ad. Something beyond the normal American Apparel Slime Factor.

And then it hit me. The  beauty standard that this advertisement is catering to is the root of my problem. We have a rail thin, white, blond model. And that would be fine, if it was accompanied by other ads, encompassing minorities, women with different abilities, transwomen, and the million of other marginalized groups I am leaving out in my ignorance and anger.  But it isn’t. It is another ad, promoting the same old male created, male enforced, unrealistic beauty standard that harms everyone who comes in contact with it, from the women who view it as ideal to the men who expect all women to look like that. No one benefits from the standard this ad is holding up.

Now, isn’t that the case with pretty much all advertising? Well, yeah. The beauty standard I described above exists everywhere, yes. But the added bonus of completely bare breasts sent me over the edge, not gonna lie. It seemed to me to go too far. Advertising has taken on faces, our arms, our legs, our thighs, our stomachs and sternums. While breasts were still a focal point of the ads, they were covered. And I guess I always imagined them underneath the bra, or fabric, or artfully draped hair, as sort of sticking their tongues out, full of sass, saying “yeah, you’ve held the rest of me up to these standards, but these puppies, they’re mine!”

It was an illusion, I know, to think that women still had some control over how their bodies were portrayed in mainstream advertising. I should have seen this coming.

But I was hoping that when the time for bare breasts came, it would be because we chose it. Because we’d changed to body ideals present in advertising and changed our culture of violence against woman, and it was SAFE to do so. Because women were no longer stigmatized and hurt for the biological identifiers of a woman, and all genders were able to walk up and down the street in various states of coverage on a hot day.

Not to sell more cheap, badly made clothes.

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2 Responses to "American Apparel (Or: No, I can’t let this go.)"

Okay so American Apparel is a clothing store so why don’t the models in the ads wear clothing?
Yes, sex sells…but naked is a whole new level. It can’t even pretend it’s tasteful/artistic.

Or relevant to their product…

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