American Apparel: Too Thin and Too Sexy?

I doubt that I would have heard of American Apparel if it weren’t for the fact that I pay a little attention to fashion.  There was also a lot of media coverage about how they were a small fashion company who made simple clothes right here in the good ol’ U.S.A. But more recently, I have become aware of the company because of their oversexed ads and lack of clothing for plus size women.

Obviously the point of advertising is to get attention, which the American Apparel ads do; but at what cost?  Most of their ads feature female and male models that look way to skinny even with the added pounds of a camera and who are scantily clad and in compromising poses.  Most of the time, I ignore the banner ads on websites or in magazines, but the ads for American Apparel are bordering on obscene. The most obscene ads aren’t even fit to be posted with this article, but if you’d like to see for yourself, a quick Google search or browse through the American Apparel website will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.  For a lot of people the ads are an annoyance and further proof of an industry that is obsessed with being thin, but what about the teens and young adults who are struggling with their own body image and are already being accosted with images of sexuality wherever they go? For them, these ads just reinforce those false ideals that they should look a certain way and that they should be overtly sexy.  No wonder teens are sending each other sexy pictures on their cell phones; they’re taking a cue from their favorite retailers.

If the offensive ads weren’t enough of an issue when it comes to disliking the American Apparel brand, there is the recent article about a plus-size model and adult film actress, April Flores, who asked an American Apparel employee why they didn’t make clothes for plus-size women.  She was answered with a curt “That’s not our demographic”. While the AA brand does produce a plus-size clothing line for men, they don’t for women. Why not? I guess that some in the fashion industry don’t feel that the larger buyers out there are their audience; however, I would disagree with that thinking.  When one third of teenagers are overweight or obese and would definitely purchase the “cool” brand if it came in their size, I would say that places like American Apparel are missing out.

Shouldn’t there be some responsibility on the part of American Apparel and some of the other major fashion brands to not exploit sex, especially when it comes to the young models they use.  And wouldn’t it make better business sense if they catered to all demographics, and not only the thin population? While some may argue that it’s just a fashion brand and that it doesn’t have that big of an effect on the youth of today, I would say that, although, American Apparel may not be solely responsible for our over-sexualized society or our lack of acceptance of plus-sized women,  they are certainly adding to it in a major way.

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One Comment

  1. Another opinion
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 3:10 am | Permalink | Reply

    American Apparel is primarily marketed at the young and looking at their website they still sell clothing in large sizes. Some of their models are skinny, but so are some people, and some of their models just look like ordinary girls – you cannot say the same of the runway models!

    I still wonder why everyone wastes so much time and energy on this when it could be directed at encouraging healthy eating habits and exercise in our youth.
    Unless there are medical reasons for being overweight there is no reason to encourage people that being obese is okay – it is a serious medical issue affecting many countries in the developed world. Of course people should not be discriminated against for this but neither should they be enabled. How much you weigh should never be a function of societal pressure but rather a function of quality of life and life expectancy!

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