American Apparel’s “best bottom” contest has concluded, butt…this is so not over
I don’t know about you all but we’re on the edge of our own perfectly adequate seats waiting to find out what an ideal bottom looks like and who American Apparel thinks has the best ass-ets. Will it be boom boom? Luba? bOOtAAyliCiOus? Cherry? Wait, where are the boys? Oh yea, halfway through our protest American Apparel set up a site for the guys too, where somewhere close to five guys posted pictures of their bottoms amidst the 1368 girls. Turns out that fakery just didn’t fly. In spite of AA’s lame story, this wasn’t equal opportunity sexualization; it was the same old double standard.
We can’t thank you enough for spreading the word about American Apparel’s blatant and unapologetic sexualization of girls and women. Thanks for signing our petition and for blogging, Facebooking and tweeting the story. You’re all rock stars and we’re incredibly grateful.
We felt the love, but we also fielded a lot of criticism because of this campaign, some cogently argued and some not worth repeating. More than once we heard versions of: Aren’t you just giving AA more attention? Doesn’t your outrage serve to further the appeal of American Apparel to their target market? Haven’t you learned yet that the forbidden fruit tastes sweetest, especially to teenagers? Yeah, we know this. We talked a lot about the forbidden fruit idea, in fact. We work with teen girls, we know about marketing and resistance theory–i.e., saying no, bad, is standard practice for getting teens to say yes, want. In the end, though, our staff of young women and our high school girls advisory board felt CEO Dov Charney and American Apparel had crossed the line and we had a responsibility to act.
This is not just a capitalist marketplace, it’s a marketplace of ideas, and the onus is on all of us to speak up and take action when we see something egregious and harmful. The increasing media sexualization of girls has become a pandemic, reinforcing the sexualization of and violence (sexual, physical, emotional, material) against girls and women in the global arena. In the US, it has been linked to three of young women’s most common mental health complaints: depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders. AA products may be made in the U.S., but they’re exporting the sexualization of girls and women around the world.
Sure, American Apparel gets more attention, but so do those of us who find their practices reprehensible. Every time we speak out, we find our friends, sister organizations, and allies. Every time we talk back, we create a little more space for coalition and resistance and we educate a few more people about the harmful effects of media sexualization. Why speak out? Because the alternative is to allow the Dov Charneys of the world to pollute our environment. Silence, doing nothing, is just not an option.
Plus, roughly half of our more than 3,000 petition signers pledged to use their wallet-power to protest American Apparel’s crude ad campaigns.
So, here at Hardy Girls, we’re going to continue to advocate with and for girls because we’re determined to create a better world for all, one where women are valued more for their beliefs and brains than they are their butts. And, we’re grateful to be doing this work in coalition with so many fabulous girls, women, and male allies. Thank you!