American Apparel’s Hiring Policy.

Via Krystal Baugher
on Oct 18, 2010
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Is it commonsense for a clothing company trying to sell their clothes to hire people who look good in them?


Recently Gawker wrote a series of articles disingenuously complaining about American Apparel and owner, Dov Charney’s policy of only hiring people with an appropriate look.

Why disingenuously? Because, as we know well over here in elephantland, any article about the perennially controversial, love/hate AA attracts lots of readers. And every one of Gawker’s articles was accompanied by one of AA’s (in)famous tackily sexy ads. You know, like so:

Umm, “duh?”

What clothing company, bar, restaurant, etc. doesn’t try to hire attractive people first?

American Apparel has one of the longest list of people they do not discriminate against:

“American Apparel actively maintains a goal of equal employment and respectful treatment of all individuals without regard to race, color, religion, creed, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, citizenship, veteran or military status, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or other protected factors.”

They just don’t like ugly people. Or, in AA’s case, “un-hip” people.

But who does? Tech companies?

Hiring based on appearance is not actually discrimination. In fact, places like American Apparel, Abercrombie & Fitch, restaurants like Hooters, most airlines and news channels…can get away with hiring only beautiful people by backing it up as a “bona fide occupational qualification.” It’s a slippery slope of law jargon that protects companies for using beauty (and sex) as a way to make a profit.

Is it right?

In accordance with a capitalistic system, yes.

Is it moral, ethical?

Well, that’s for We the Consumers to decide.

(*One key note here: AA doesn’t appear to hire only conventionally beautiful employees. They hire hipsters of all shapes and sizes—as long as they have the right look or style.)

In the meantime perhaps we can all work on how we view and accept beauty, then perhaps jobs that hire based on appearance-only will have a tougher selection process. Perhaps what’s so upsetting about these qualifications is that they are based on rigid beauty ideals.

American Apparel will at least hire people of color, LGTBQ people, foreigners, religious fundamentalists, and mentally handicapped people as long as they’re hot.

For the Gawker articles go here, here, and here.

For a few elephant articles on American Apparel go here, here, and here.


About Krystal Baugher

Krystal Baugher lives in Denver. She earned her MA in Writing and Publishing and her MA in Women and Gender Studies from DePaul University/Chicago. She is the creator of Mile High Mating, a website dedicated to helping people "do it" in Denver and beyond. You can find her on facebook and twitter (as long as you aren’t a stalker).


10 Responses to “American Apparel’s Hiring Policy.”

  1. diana says:

    I like ugly people.

  2. Dan Slanger says:

    Diana, your comment is certainly an appropriate response to "And who does?". However, I read the line as just a rhetorical preface to the claim that American Apparel is not alone among similar businesses and that its hiring practices are shared by a long list of service oriented organizations—the claim Krystal details in the next paragraph. Though perhaps you read the line the same way. Anyway, at the risk of coming off immodest, I think ugly people are the best.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Funny thing is, at least half of what makes someone attractive is what's inside. Cliches are cliches because, often, they're true and bear repeating.

    A friend of mine growing up had so much love for life and trouble-making charm that, though not conventionally beautiful at all, he or she was immensely magnetizing. And of course we all know examples of the opposite, too.

  4. anniegirl1138 says:

    It's a business. The product is a "look" and one that is pretty much accepted by the majority, it seems.

    I don't suppose you can fault AA anymore than you can fault Lululemon for cutting off their sizes at 12. They have a vision of what beauty and fitness is and it stops at a certain level.

    Maybe we ugly folk should just get over ourselves?

  5. Yogini# says:

    But why? Ugly gets deeper and better with age …

  6. ian says:

    They certainly do not discriminate when it comes to hiring the mentally challenged to work in their retail sector. I think it may be a prerequisite. Nor should we assume that the neon unitard goblins that work the cash are attractive. When we start feeling inferior to an employee or model selling this inferior brand, we lose.

  7. […] original here: American Apparel Hates Ugly People? ~Krystal Baugher | elephant … apparelactively-maintains, all-individuals, apparel, equal-employment, marital-status, […]

  8. I do have to admit, I have never been one to date/fancy the "beautiful people". There is so much more to look at in the "ugly" face. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – ugly is an ugly word and shouldn't be used to describe appearances, just attitudes?

    But I am an ugly f***er.

  9. YogiOne says:

    Maybe AA should do some "tasteful" ads like this:

    This is how I think we should show our respect to the yoginis in our lives.

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