American Apparel: The Slut Jig is Up

So. I’m cooking dinner the other night for me and my BF, and I’m wearing American Apparel leggings and a top that doesn’t entirely cover my bum. He notes that I’ve got a cute butt for the nine thousandth time, and I’m flattered for the nine thousandth time, and it’s all couple-y and cute and nice. It’s not like he’s some random dude on the internet ogling my goodies under the guise of a “contest” – that would be creepy and weird.

Apparently, the entrants inĀ  American Apparel’s Best Bottom Contest don’t feel the same way.

Firstly: let’s talk about the media’s treatment of a contest that reeks of female objectification (i.e. American Apparel’s other area of expertise). NBC’s The Thread‘s coverage consisted of a cutesy title (Push for Tush…eew) and a regurgitated press release. Viralogy used the competition as a Social Media Case Study. Aside from the Tennessee Guerilla Women, no one else said boo. Another instance of American Apparel’s pushing the sex-and- body-consciousness envelope is old news… isn’t it?

Sexing up the average tee or tank is a brilliant marketing tool, particularly when you’ve got ethical manufacturing practices to fall back on. Bring on the come-hither eyes, the crotch shots, the nipple flashes, the blow job faces – as long as the chicks are in sweatshop-free clothes (or lack thereof), a morally questionable portrayal of women ain’t no thang. The ads obvs don’t do much to bolster feminine self-esteem, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they denigrate it either. If you want to argue that American Apparel ads have real-life consequences – that they result in a girl’s valuing her T&A over her I (her self, her intellect – take your pick) – you need evidence.

Evidence like the one thousand, one hundred and two women who’ve slapped their almost-naked asses online in hopes of becoming America’s Next Top Butt.

The Search for the Best Bottom in America isn’t a traditional AA ad campaign – it’s worse. This isn’t the brand objectifying women. This is women choosing to objectify themselves. American Apparel’s ads are designed to make us feel prude, to make us feel like we need to loosen up, to make us think that maybe if we weren’t so modest, guys would be as turned on by us as they seem to be by the girls in the campaigns. They make us forget everything that makes us more than the sum of our superficial parts.

American Apparel ads strip women of more than their clothes – they strip them of their humanity. They make it seem okay to let your American Apparel undie-clad ass define all that you are. The ads aren’t going to change any time soon. What has to change first is our response to them: We have to stop believing what they imply.

My lust for leggings is strong, but not as strong as my desire to stop being framed as a hipster slut, which is what I’m starting to feel like every single time I don a pair from AA.

If we want to be thought of as anything other than casual sex objects, we have to stop giving this brand permission to frame us in that context. How do we take back the gender? We pull the money plug. From this day on, I will not fund any more of this nonsense.

Want to join me? Stay tuned for a link to the Facebook Campaign. (Also for brand alternatives to AA. If we’re going to quit the line cold turkey, we need to find well-priced basics elsewhere: They will be our Nicorette.)

TAKE BACK THE GENDER – BOYCOTT AA.

Comments

  1. Jordan says

    so marry me please. i actually can not STAND what american apparel ads do to the status of women as consumers and as human beings. please post the link to the facebook campaign when you have it up and going, i will invite ALL of my friends.

  2. Rachel L. says

    Yea! You go. You might want to think about your use of the word “slut,” which muddies the water here (and elsewhere, when you talk about AA). I know some women have tried to “take back” this negative word, but that doesn’t seem to be the way you are using it. In this context, it edges you closer to “she was asking for it.” And even those women who choose to enter the context may be self-objectifying, but the problem isn’t that they like sex, or even casual sex or multiple partners.

  3. rae says

    Yesss! I mean, there’s slutty and there’s slut-tay… AA has taken the cake for a while. I haven’t gone near the place in a long time, but I’ll sign whatever petitions come my way.

  4. maiajane says

    While I hear your point, and agree in a lot of ways, I would also like to pose a couple of questions: Is a woman who feels good enough about herself, and her body, to post a photograph of it on the internet really objectifying herself in a negative way? because someone else wearing AA is a sex object, does that make you a sex object?

    Just wondering…

  5. Karen says

    I agree, it’s degrading. I am so crazy thrilled that your blog is here to spread the word. It’s time for us all to make these manufacturers listen to what we are saying—WE WILL NOT BE USED FOR OTHERS ENTERTAINMENT—-

  6. Alex says

    Since when should women be ashamed to show off what they’re proud of? I’m an intelligent, fun loving, well educated woman. Yeah, you’ll never know that by seeing a photo of my butt but hell, I think I have a nice ass and I’d be proud to be crowned with the best bottom in the world! This contest isn’t ‘most amazing woman in the world’ being based solely off her bottom in AA undies, after all.

    P.S. Men can enter this contest too.

  7. Amy says

    Very well stated. Looking at an AA ad always makes me feel like I need to shower, immediately. There’s that underlying quality of
    “To Catch a Predator” in all of them. And after seeing an in-depth report on the guy who runs the company (Dov?) I was immediately turned off. Ethical manufacturing processes can’t take the stink off the sleaze he radiates.

  8. Rae says

    As I wrote to all the friends I invited to join the boycott: these ads equate AA customers with underage sluts at best. If that’s how you want to be perceived, then that’s your bag — but if not, then show AA that you don’t identify with their crotch-flashing, butt-presenting, barely-clad, open-mouthed models, and join this boycott!

  9. rae says

    For me, the boycott is about showing AA that I do not identify with the images presented in these ads. If you feel represented by a 15-year-old thrusting her crotch at a stranger’s camera, then feel free to keep joining the pantie party. If you don’t, then you can exercise your power as a consumer to stop buying stuff from a brand that equates its customers with leg-spreading, but presenting, open-mouthed models and/or disembodied pelvises.

  10. Margo says

    Sure Alex, men “can” enter the contest, but look on the website. Nary a male butt in sight. I think we all know that this contest is for women to enter, and men to oogle.

    Of course your reason to enter said contest is just as valid as some one else’s reason not to, that’s fine. But don’t use their bullshit fine print as some measure of equality or fairness. After all, you’re much too smart for that.

  11. Laurent says

    That a woman has posted her body online to be rated is does not imply that the woman in question values her body over her own agency.

  12. says

    Okay my problem is that the American apparel models are very slutty and when you go to the lingerie section the models nipples are straight- on showing !!!! American apparel needs to stop making their modles look like street walkers! the website above shows the slut.
    it is like a free porn site!
    im disgusted to even shop there!!!!

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