Will a woman rush to buy an item because of the way it’s displayed or because of what’s implied?
American Apparel has once again found itself in strife (what a hackneyed better way to always bring attention to your new fashion campaign?) after advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued a warning to the fashion retailer that its latest ads were likely to cause serious and widespread offence.
The latest ads on the retailer’s website show various women disrobed whilst donning the retailer’s staple garments, but disrobed to the point that instead of observing the clothes one is instead observing the model’s buttocks and breasts. Which brings the assertion that what the line has in essence done is to present these women as soft porn objects du jour.
In a landscape that has increasingly seen the commodification of women to an abrupt extent where their value is contingent to a woman’s ability to denote desirable staples of boobs, ass, lips and flawless skin one is left to wonder are retailers like American Apparel feeding on neurosis that feed on women’s desire to also be perceived beautiful and by implication desirable and valuable?
For their part, American Apparel have rejected (did you expect otherwise?) such assertions of overt sexualization of women (which raises the question-how often are men presented in equal measures of physical sexual idolization?) and instead offered that their images are ”real, non-airbrushed, everyday people.’ Images that were the sort that friends would openly share on social media platforms like facebook (really?).
The retailer also goes on to assert that it is ‘important to judge what was and was not offensive by reference to the current times and the views of the majority of decent and reasonable people, not a small and puritanically-minded minority’.
Observed the ASA: ‘We considered that in the particular context of images which featured nudity and sexually provocative poses, there was a voyeuristic and ‘amateurish’ quality to the images which served to heighten the impression that the ads were exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women.’
At present the ASA have warned the retailer to not use all but one of the eight ads that have recently been on the retailer’s website. Of course they will be likely to issue new warnings sometime in the future as the retailer once again gears to challenge society’s portrayal of women and what it deems tasteful, appropriate and or exploitative. Then again perhaps the retailer may have a point when it intimates that is is only reflecting the current stasis in current popular culture. which is to say women as sex objects even in fluffy pajamas is the new raw deal.