Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Remember This?

Remember back in February when I was complaining about American Apparel? Well apparently somebody else hates them too. The best way to explain is to quote the site itself (I bolded the pertinent parts):

" 'American Able' intends to, through spoof, reveal the ways in which women with disabilities are invisibilized in advertising and mass media. I chose American Apparel not just for their notable style, but also for their claims that many of their models are just ‘every day’ women who are employees, friends and fans of the company. However, these women fit particular body types. Their campaigns are highly sexualized and feature women who are generally thin, and who appear to be able-bodied. Women with disabilities go unrepresented, not only in American Apparel advertising, but also in most of popular culture. Rarely, if ever, are women with disabilities portrayed in anything other than an asexual manner, for ‘disabled’ bodies are largely perceived as ‘undesirable.’ In a society where sexuality is created and performed over and over within popular culture, the invisibility of women with disabilities in many ways denies them the right to sexuality, particularly within a public context.

Too often, the pervasive influence of imagery in mass media goes unexamined, consumed en masse by the public. However, this imagery has real, oppressive effects on people who are continuously ‘othered’ by society. The model, Jes Sachse, and I intend to reveal these stories by placing her in a position where women with disabilities are typically excluded."

Personally I think this is totally awesome, although it brings up conflicted feelings. On the one hand, it is totally unrealistic and kind of sick that we only use models that look completely different than the majority of people in society, and marginalize anyone that looks different. On the other, if I were a clothing designer and I wanted to show off my new line, of course I want to do it on fit, attractive people (at which point the problem ceases to be with fashion per se, but with the warped minds of the people, which are heavily influenced my magazines, back and forth, on and on. Phew!). You're selling America a fantasy, saying "if you buy this Marc Jacobs dress you'll be 93 pounds and gorgeous too". At least most runways don't claim to host "normal" people, they admit they deal with fantasy. Which is not to say that it makes it OK for designers to do that, just that I appreciate that man of them seem to recognize that they are fostering unrealistic expectations.

I think what bothers me so much about American Apparel is exactly what she says above, their claim to normalcy. It's normal to be stick thin with a huge rack and booty, to wander around all day scantily clad and be as sexual as possible. Hey little girls, everyone is like us, we're normal.

But then again, maybe I'm just taking this all way too seriously. What do you think, of the photos, the reasoning behind them, everything?

ETA: Another "article" on the subject (I say "article" because it's on Perez Hilton)


  1. Ha! American Apparel uses girls off the street as models? Yeah, right. They're all ridiculously well endowed Popsicle sticks. The idea behind American Able's satirical campaign is fantastic.

    Melanie @Unravelled Threads
    My custom elastic waistband skirt giveaway ends Saturday!

  2. I think they're pretty smart because this captures our attention and makes us think

  3. I was actually planning on posting about this next week. Isn't she amazing.