American Apparel Ad or Porn?

by Mermaid on February 20, 2016 - 4:33pm

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/controversial-american-apparel-ads...

American Apparel is a company created in Montreal Canada that is notorious for their branding and usage of pornographic-style images to sell their clothes. What seems to set them apart from the rest of the commercials we are conditioned to seeing is the lack of extravagance; no makeup, body shimmer or touch ups. These girls photographed half naked become uneasy on the eye just because of how realistic they are set out to be, with every stretch mark, uneven skin tone and glimpse of oil on their faces. 

The specific advertisement I came across shows a young woman in a swim suit style bodysuit with her legs wide, beside her the words “Now Open”, as if her body is a well conditioned store that allows consumers to come in and out. As mentioned in “Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising.”, “the sexual objectification of women requires that they remain silent. Moreover, while the masculine gender role is valued, the feminine counterpart is disregarded or devalued” (58). The issue with this advertisement is the sense of extreme promiscuity of this young woman, the image is taken from a questionable angle, unforgiving and inviting for the male eye as ultimately submissive. 

One gendered message largely depicted in this advertisement is that “women are primarily depicted as sexual objects or sexual agents” (57). This ad does so well with the over-sexualization of the model’s body that the article of clothing becomes almost non existent for it’s lack of anything special but the body that wears it. From a selling value stand point, this image contains lots of shock value that says nothing about the article(s) of clothing offered but more of the implied promiscuity that comes with it. This ad is particularly concerning for what exactly is implied, as young girls will see it and perhaps assume how they should think and dress or even act while wearing American Apparel’s clothing. 

American Apparel is known for their thong bodysuits, lace lingerie, revealing dresses and see-through materials. To make a commercial for just a bodysuit seems unflattering and useless as the only way to properly function socially with a bodysuit on is to wear it with a skirt or jeans on top. If I were to fix this commercial, I would create a real outfit that shows how the average woman/teen could use the piece in their wardrobe. I would also take the photo from a different angle, one that better showcased the clothing in a less promiscuous pose. 

Cortese, Anthony Joseph Paul. "Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising." Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008. N. pag. Print.

Comments

Hello Mermaid,
I wanted to congratulate you on addressing this matter. I also believe that sexism in advertising is very troublesome and is an important issue that should be addressed. Nowadays there is a lot of sexual insight and sexual advertisement on the free market industry, this is mostly due to the mentality that we grew up with and the way society portraits our standards of living. Although I am not a feminist, I still believe in equality of genders and I think that women have the right to think for themselves and defend their points of view. Why would women be sensualised in advertisement, be forced to exhibit their body parts and portrait being submissive, while men have to show their greatness and strength? The last issue that I have addressed on my blog was the issue of women sex trafficking using the web-site: Backpage.com. Although this website is based in the United States, it provides different "services" around the world, however people have been using this site for sexual trafficking purposes and I looked upon this issue by analysing some events that happened both in Canada and the United States. I learned that Canada had more difficulty to deal with this website, due to the laws on private life protection that the government had implemented, while the United States courts were already pressing charges against the CEO of the website. Although I am pretty sure that sexual advertisement is happening in U.S.A and in Canada on a similar level of intensity, I believe that you mind find it profitable to look at how this issue is addressed from the point of view of multiple different countries. You mind find some useful information and learn some interesting facts that you could integrate in some further posts, if you wish to continue your work on this issue.

Hello mermaid,
After reading your post, I would like to say that you have done a great job at expressing your view on these types of advertisements! I highly agree with you on most of the points that you made, such as “a young woman in a swim suit style bodysuit with her legs wide, beside her the words “Now Open”, as if her body is a well conditioned store that allows consumers to come in and out.” This statement stood out to me because I never really thought about that photo in that way. I like how you dug up the small things such as the “stretch marks, uneven skin tone and glimpse of oil on their faces.” I never thought about how “natural” they kept the young girl’s body! When i saw this photo, I was quite shocked. What shocked me is the angle in which the picture was taken. One thing you failed to mention is that also some men on advertisements for companies such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, etc… have interesting photo angles as well. In most big brands we see that the male model is treated like an object, and are usually photoshopped unlike the female in American Apparel’s advertisement. Looking at this photo and then applying two different gendered lenses would help you in order to further your understanding and depth in regards to this photo.