Courting controversy is what American Apparel does best, apart from making hipsters think £35 for a plain Tshirt is totally reasonable, so it comes as no surprise that the clothing chain has been given a right haughty telling off by the Advertising Standards Agency for having too many boobies and bumbums in their adverts.
After a whopping, huge torrent of complaints,the ASA has decided that eight of the images in question are like really not OK, and should be pulled from circulation, except for Tumblr, where they will remain for hipsters to masturbate to until the Internet explodes.
American Apparel responded as you’d expect, defending the images and saying that they show “real, non airbrushed, everyday people” and are typical of what loads and loads of twenty year old women post on their social network profiles and share with friends. We see their point, if by ‘social networking’ and ‘friends’ they mean, like, escort profile page and clients.
The ads have been banned, which is good, because they are pretty freaking demeaning. But the thing is, is that really why they’ve been banned. The ASA has stated that the ads have been banned because they are exploitative, and “likely to cause serious offence”. This suggests less that the British public will be offended by the issue at hand (an insidious, creeping over sexualisation of women that sits at the very heart of the overt sexism of patriarchal society) and more offended because, like, nipples.
Even the exploitation issue is a little murky are the ASA annoyed because the images (albeit of ‘twenty something’ women) ring with a narrative of slightly grim, bedsit bound sexual voyeuristic exploitation, or because they think that the method using nudity to sell stuff is exploitative of the customer? Like, are they finally making moves to remedy the media’s overbearing, wanton sexualisation of the female body, or are they actually more concerned that said sexualisation will take advantage of the consumer? Despite their statements to the contrary, we’re inclined to lean towards the latter.
For what it’s worth, we’re glad that these particular American Apparel ads have been banned. The company has a long and nasty reputation for demeaning and controlling women under their employment, and anyone with half a brain knows that the fashion industry is a deeply troubling place, rife with sexual exploitation and abuses of trust. American Apparel contributes to that seedy underbelly of fashion, whilst also appearing to parody it, undermining the actual issues at hand.