RRW ADversary™: American Apparel - Why little girls dressed in ANYTHING outside AA is wrong...


Most of you seem to have taken this photo literally, but I can’t say that I blame you. Upon looking at the picture, without taking into account ANY background information on American Apparel’s business and marketing practices, I probably would have said that same thing. There was no particular lewd act that I was trying to catch on camera. No. It was the principle.

Let me be clear… little girls dressed in ANYTHING outside of an American Apparel store is wrong. They could be wearing long pants and turtlenecks and it would still be deemed inappropriate. Here’s why…

American Apparel is known for it’s ‘edgy’ approach to marketing. It’s not as if they hide it either… Right on their website, they freely post nearly all ads and photos they’ve shot of their models and ask for people to comment.

Under ‘Advertising’ on the website, they state:

Take a look at the unique images and ads that define us.


Under ‘Models of American Apparel’ they state:

American Apparel is known for comfortable clothing as well as provocative photography. Here you can see some of the best and most evocative images captured by our staff.

Well, they’re really not lying there. They state what they are. Provocative. Comfortable (well, maybe there’s the partial lie).

Along with ‘edgy,’ their photos are a spitting image of amateur, do-it-yourself, soft-core pornography. Some of them feature images of girls that just screams 'barely legal', and MANY of their models look like they could be victims of online sexual predators… innocently posing sexually in photos and awkwardly trying to be ‘sexy’ in their prepubescent bodies.

I was a dancer when I was a young girl. I wore leotards, tutus, bodysuits and spandex. Some of the poses are creative and sort of fit in with the clothing their trying to sell…

Like this one:

But then the photoshoot shifts to this:

Many of us in body image work, eating disorder advocacy, women’s rights, girl empowerment and media literacy have been posting blogs, links and images in an effort to educate the public on the various ways American Apparel has proven itself an RRW ADversary™. We’ll post more pictures, but here are some more things to consider:

Most recently, AA made news for offering both a skirt and a pair of shorts no higher than a size 4-6. Not only do their models solely display a thin figure (only natural to a rare portion of the population), but AA practices blatant size discrimination by cutting off the sizes they offer at size 6. (See: http://bit.ly/ca1iU3).

AA’s ‘Best Bottom’ contest earlier this year had people outraged. In an effort to find the next ‘face’ of AA, they held a contest for (at-first) women and girls to post pictures of their behinds for all to judge and rate. Only later, after much criticism, did they set up another site including males as well. See Hardy Girls, Healthy Women’s blog post on this: http://hghw.blogspot.com/2010/03/american-apparels-best-bottom-contest.html

As so many of our RRW ALLIES™ have stated time and time again (Pigtail Pals, Shaping Youth and Hardy Girls, Healthy Women to name a few), the sexualization of children and adolescents is not OK. Because this is a company that has based its entire identity around such advertising tactics, it isn’t hard to see why a store’s promotional event where young employees were dancing next to a 4 or 5 year old girl in order to ‘attract attention’ to the store was inappropriate. The fact that these girls were in ballerina costumes only ads to the creepiness factor. It emphasizes a carefree, innocence – naïve purity – meant to lure in customers and onlookers.

Finally, their kid line has recently expanded. One would hope that there was a big difference between their kid photoshoots and the ‘young adult’ shoots, but they are teetering on a line of impropriety. Teetering. One back-bend away from being downright illegal.

But hey, if you’re not offended or creeped out by all of this, then you too can support a company that put this notice up on their site -- They’re hiring! Uhhh... little girls...?


If you need any further convincing, here's your evidence:

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