Like many people, I love American Apparel- although the prices often flood my bag with the tears of my tortured debit card, the clothes themselves are worth the pain, and mostly promise to stand the test of time, of general wear-and tear and the ever-changing face of fashion.
As anyone who reads my blog would know, I am not one who enjoys spending money; even the thought of someone spending £400 on a bag triggers a flush of acid to my throat...If I can’t justify the money leaving my purse, it will stay closed. But since I trust in the quality and the versatility of American Apparel, I, most of the time, have no problem with buying from them, and have since had no regrets.
I have to make that clear before I get to the actual point of this blog post: I do shop at American Apparel and am (aside from a few unsavoury dealings with their twisted, non-existent, refund policy...) a happy customer. However, if I take money out of the equation, the reason I sometimes have reservations about buying American Apparel is their advertising.
Forget risking the embarrassing browsing history, monthly fees and the threat of saturating your computer with virus’- American Apparel adverts are teeming with young women with their tits, fanny’s and, if you’re lucky, a glimpse of pubic hair, hanging out for your pleasure; posing like they’re ready to fuck, wearing next to nothing, they look like they’ve been freshly plucked out of a LA ghetto at 15 and fed heroin to stand in front of a camera and masturbate.
Obviously I am aware that it’s just the styling, and that these girls are professional models and are probably not ex-prostitutes who just can’t get used to wearing many clothes, but they do look like they’ve just had a night of coke and rough sex and have woken up to find a pervert with a camera in their face promising them a full English if they can just get a few more shots in. (Disclaimer: this has never happened to me, so I don’t know how one actually looks after a night such as that, but if I had to guess...)
Nudity doesn’t offend me, nor does pornography, and I fully believe that sexual freedom is a thing of great importance in order to sustain/create equality and democracy. However, when I am shopping for clothes, I really don’t want some half dressed, well-oiled, barely-legal, young woman’s nipples screaming at me at the top of my screen. That doesn’t sell clothes for me.
Three guesses for what gender the people behind AA’s advertising are? For some completely unknown reason, I think it might just be the work of men. Which there is obviously nothing wrong with; I am sure there are thousands of innovative and brilliant male advertisers out there, but I think, in this case, they have completely forgotten that they’re supposed to be selling women’s clothes TO women.
Forgive me, I know it’s been said billions of times, but if the Pankhurst’s, or any one of the thousands of women who fought for our rights over centuries of male dominance, saw us letting this sort of advertising continue, I think they would have taken their picket boards and thrust it squarely in their stomachs.
This isn’t just a result of a society increasingly accepting sexual expression, this right here is simply advertisers using the women’s body to sell you their goods, and using the ‘sexual revolution’ to their own advantage, in this case, to take off more of her clothes. It’s something that advertisers have used explicitly since the 50’s—just because you live in a society where you can happily tweet “Just had the best sex of my life” without thinking, don’t think that as a woman you no longer have to fight- you do, in the same way that just because these adverts have a woman mid-thrust in a thong instead of posing with a can of soup, don’t think that these images don’t sexually exploit women. They do.
All in all, from a consumer perspective, I just don’t find it necessary to have an arse in my face when I am looking for a pair of socks, and find it a bit weird that if I show my boyfriend a skirt I like he might get an erection. It’s not empowering women, it’s not selling the clothes in any way and it’s making it difficult to browse the site in a public place without looking like an utter nympho. I'll admit that, like many of us, my boyfriend may or may not have similar photographs of me on his phone, but I didn't send him them for him to consider purchasing the shirt I may or may not have been wearing in them. If I typed in "school girl gets naughty in bedroom" I'd be extremely happy with the majority of these photos, but, alas, I didn't, and I got them anyway. So to summarise what I think of American Apparel's general advertising- it’s just fucking stupid.