Is American Apparel Sexist?

Via on Jan 6, 2010

american apparel women

American Apparel goes all the way (and hires a Porn Star).

faye valentine porn star american apparel blast

Is AA Sexist…or is it all in Good-Stylish-Made-in-USA-Fair-Labor=Fun?

American Apparel *does* lots of good (see list in post). But its representation of women is 30-plus years out of date. Yah, that would place us in the stylee, funky, anything-goes ’70s.

I just posted a blog on Vice Magazine, and how they’re the opposite of everything we here at elephant stand for, and how I love them. And how they’re better journalists than 90% of anyone left standing in America.

american apparel women

And right there on Vice’s site is an American Apparel ad of a porn star.

Surprised? Doubt it.

porn star american apparel women feminism

Update: Apparently it’s not the first time they’ve featured a porn actress.

Now, we here at elephant are huge fans of what American Apparel does: one of few apparel companies that’s still Made in the USA, fair labor, vertical integration, affordable, relatively green, thoroughly cool, elegant, progressive, out-of-the-box thinkers. They don’t do sweatshops. They’re outspoken advocates of gay rights.

And, with the unending encouragement of our yogarific readers, we’ve come to regret that American Apparel represents (and treats) women in a consistently sexualized manner. Given their widespread rep, the unending controversy, this latest AA ad seems like a hipsterific, ironic f-u gesture to self-respecting feminists everywhere.

So while I’ll continue to support AA with my sock and undie purchases, and print elephant tees on their well-cut organic, fair labor blanks…well, this one makes it that much more iffy.

…And ka-ching, controversy doesn’t hurt this brand, AA thrives on controversy, and all the free ad value it gets out of every angry blogger and reader.

american apparel controversy sexism feministing

Photo via Feministing.

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

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28 Responses to “Is American Apparel Sexist?”

  1. ACB says:

    So Faye Valentine in nothing but hosiery really makes you consider boycotting the company? Really? How is this ad any different than ads they have always done?

  2. 123 says:

    How did you know she was a porn star anyways??? huh??? hmmm?

  3. Moogmama says:

    Hurray for them! They are helping to rehabilitate a porn star! Very Buddhist of them! …and a lovely ad!

  4. Moogmama says:

    by the way, what is it you stand for?

  5. Because I looove AA and I do a ton of posts on them and I'm always searching for something to write about, bc as you can see, they're controversial. And controversy equals clicks, and clicks equals dialogue, and interaction with our readership equals, hopefully, sustainability for elephant, as long as it's mission appropriate.

    Though I know what you're getting at, young anonymous person..!

  6. This is so funny. I write pro-AA articles all the time, and I get yelled at by yoga readers. Then I finally say okay, this does seem rather sexualized, un-feminist, and everyone jumps to AA's defense. Love it!

  7. ACB says:

    Just to clarify, I never yelled about it. I love naked chicks. And yoga.

  8. You may not have yelled, but search "american apparel" on elephantjournal.com, here I'll do it for you,
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/?s=%22american+app
    and you'll see countless comments taking them down, with my saying "yes, but they do this and that right…"

  9. Hiring a porn star seems like taking their consistently sexualized ads to the next (lower) level.

    I said why this might be different, above: "…we’ve come to regret that American Apparel represents (and treats) women in a consistently sexualized manner. Given their widespread rep, the unending controversy, this latest AA ad seems like a hipsterific, ironic f-u gesture to self-respecting feminists everywhere.

    So while I’ll continue to support AA…"

  10. ACB says:

    So you think that this lady is less of a human being because she was In Cock Pigs pt 6?

  11. Oh, god. Part 6 was horrible.

  12. Nathan Smith ndsmith says:

    I love this comment.

  13. Great comment. Thanks for that, TimesNR.

  14. I love that you love that comment, which I also love. It's funny, tho, I have to say, where have all my fellow defenders of AA been on my last 40 posts? Seems to be a devil's advocate kinda situation, personally speaking.

    • Nathan Smith ndsmith says:

      I'm shocked– SHOCKED!–that the comments section of a blog would be filled with anything but the most consistent and thoughtful sentiments of its learned readers….

      Seriously, I think you are trying to walk a thin line on this issue–taking a stand I very much respect and agree with–but subtlety and nuance are not exactly the stock and trade of The Internet.

  15. Gee, this is a fun and interesting discussion.

    And, gee whiz, I have absolutely nothing to say!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  16. Michelle says:

    There are lots of other great companies that sell well cut, fair labor, organic cotton blanks. You don't have to print on AA. I made the decision quite a long time ago to find other t-shirts than AA to use for my business.

  17. Michelle says:

    There are lots of other great companies that sell well cut, fair labor, organic cotton blanks. You don't have to print on AA. I made the decision quite a long time ago to find other t-shirts than AA to use for my business.

  18. Thanks. Who do you like, Michelle? Aside from organic, fair labor, I like AA's style and cut.

  19. jon says:

    Maybe they are hiring for the model and not what their other career is , or maybe that model is trying to start a new career also?

  20. [...] So what’s the point to completely devalue women and become the butt of the joke?  I honestly have no idea.  Why do I love American Apparel?  Because it’s the hipster brand that tries to be better for the environment and people and maybe—without trying too hard—is better than most of our favorite companies in the “green” sphere.  American Apparel does have good values but why do they always teeter on the edge of exploitation and sexism? [...]

  21. [...] immigrants, and most infamously perhaps this advertising, which consistently walks the line between softcore porn and edgy, lecherous smut that portrays young women as sexual [...]

  22. [...] American Apparel because they’ve left behind their realistic advertising roots and now use porn stars or “perfect” blond models (instead of “real people) doing dopey things in the [...]

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