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American Apparel—Objectification of Women made in the U.S.A.

Date: May 18, 2009 | Posted By:

For a company that prides itself on making all its attire in the United States, American Apparel deserves no congratulations when it comes to its ads. American Apparel already has one ad posted in our Gallery of Offenders and the obviously have done nothing to improve there act–they seem to have gotten worse!

Just take a look at these four recent advertisements from American Apparel:

American Apparel Ad for Socks

American Apparel Ad for Socks

American Apparel Ad for Underwear?

American Apparel Ad for Underwear?

American Apparel Ad for ???

American Apparel Ad for ???

American Apparel Ad for Opening in Japan

American Apparel Ad for Opening in Japan

What is the first thing you see in these pictures? Certainly not the apparel. What kind of position are the women in? What are their faces saying? What does it mean when you can’t see her face? Where are the men? What does their absence mean?

What kind of language is used in the advertisements? How do these words reflect the photos in the ads, and how do they connect to the ads’ messages?

Socks and underwear aside, what are the ads really selling?

After rubbing my eyes a couple times and staring at the computer screen with my mouth agape and my face flushing with anger — incidents that are probably happening to you right now — one of the first things I noticed was the candid-photo style of these photographs. The odd lighting, the grainy-ness — doesn’t the style of these photos give you the feeling that the women were unsuspecting subjects in the photos? There’s a sense in the ads that a man is snapping photos of the woman — helplessly left to be the object –and we are lucky enough to voyeuristically view the results. Gee, that makes me want to go buy socks!

So what are the ads actually getting at? American Apparel advertisements — advertisements that are plastered all over magazines and weekly newspapers nationwide — aren’t selling clothes. They’re selling the notion that scantily clad girls in compromising positions are hip. American Apparel caters to a hipster clientele, and the company is equating coolness with sexualized positions, and the idea that it’s okay to treat women as things that should be stared at.

The women have become the products, not the clothing. We’ve all seen the countless advertisements in fashion magazines and on billboards — women in shopping bags, women without faces, women’s body parts taking up the entire photo. American Apparel wants to be trendy, but they need to step away from this current advertising trend. They need to stop objectifying women to sell socks.

Congratulations, American Apparel. You make clothing in a socially sound manner. For that we thank you. Now please stop using half-naked models in inferior positions to convince us all to buy your company’s underwear.

If you’re as furious as me, please send your thoughts to

American Apparel Inc.
747 Warehouse St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
United States

Or contact them directly on their website by clicking here.

-Kate




What Do You Think?

7 Responses to American Apparel—Objectification of Women made in the U.S.A.

  1. Danielle on 05-19-2009

    Wow, American Apparel ads are disgusting! These probably aren't even the worst ads they've had, but...just looking at these ones made me feel like I was staring at something from a porn magazine. Seriously.

    The adds aren't selling the clothes. The clothes aren't even the main focal point of these images. The women are. Women who look like they've been sexed up, or about to be sexed up.

    I can't say what the absence of men means in these ads...can't figure that bit out. But, one idea would be that these women are what's being sold, and to add men in the pictures would mean they're being 'sold' as well.

    I can't help but sigh at these images. This is why I've never been fond of ANY type of magazine.
  2. sophia on 05-19-2009

    hi daniel i agree with you about all that.
  3. rachael on 05-20-2009

    we can complain all we want about this issue to american apparel, but i seriously don't think they will care. this article (see link below) came out a while back on AOL news, so i had to try to find it again and found it on another site. their CEO is a total slimebag and has essentially expressed that he couldn't give a rat's *ss. i think the only thing we CAN do is spread the word about this company and their sleazy attitude and try to get people to boycott them.

    http://www.minyanville.com/articles//7/2/2008/index/a/17816
  4. rachael on 05-20-2009

    here's a site that has links to a couple more articles about american apparel and their CEO.

    http://www.oneangrygirl.net/girlcotts.html#clothing
  5. Deborah Power on 05-25-2009

    I have never set foot in this store because of the degrading adds they produce.Why would a woman endorse their product by giveing them their money.I believe until we as women stop viewing ourselves and others as objects of addiction,there will be "no change".These adds are violent in nature and do nothing to promote freedom.Lets stop this cycle of bondage by connecting to our inner compass instead of dysfunctional displays of explotation.
  6. Amy Jussel on 05-28-2009

    I think we should cross-post this on Shaping Youth to launch a full tilt awareness campaign...Check w/Jen and let's pay it forward.

    p.s. I just promo'd the latest About-Face ATB screening tonight in Marin and wanted to add it to your FB wall, but it's not set up to do so...Therefore, here's the blog reminder to e-blast as you wish:

    http://blog.shapingyouth.org/?p=6985
  7. Sibyl on 05-29-2009

    I Googled to see if anyone else had written on these ads and I found an interesting parody of it:

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/28/41858230_baac2d6656.jpg

    Just thought I'd share.