Advertising Standards Authority (& Kaytee Hernandez) vs American Apparel

The Advertising Standards Authority has warned American Apparel, again, after their new “overtly sexual” ads received complaints. The ads in question feature voyeuristic photographs (shockingly similar to a drunk snap chat I sent last weekend) of a faceless woman in thigh high socks and a body suit posing on a bed.

Now, as both an advertising student and as a woman, I think these ads are offensive. Not only has American Apparel relinquished all ethical responsibility, they have hidden behind the oldest adage in the book, sex sells. Personally, I’m over it. Not because it’s unethical (even though it probably is) or because it is edgy (even though it’s really not), I’m over it because it’s boring.

I’m over seeing faceless naked women in advertisements being sold as sexy. Guess what guys, it’s not sexy; it’s lazy. Sexy is confidence. Sexy is eye contact. Sexy is unnerving and warm and raw and complex. Sexy isn’t a half naked, faceless woman shot from a camera phone angle. No, that’s just desperate for attention.

If this ad is trying to get me to buy thigh high socks it is failing. It’s failing because I know socks don’t make me sexy, my attitude does. It’s failing because I know these socks don’t empower me; they chain me to a specific image of what society considers female sexuality to be. It’s failing because I know these socks weren’t made for me, they were made for the men who see me in them. And lastly, it’s failing because these socks are no different than the millions of other socks being sold to me as an enhancement of myself, as if socks could do that.

I’m sure American Apparel was hoping this ad would be both shocking and sensational but there is nothing shocking about a clothing company selling sex; and if I really wanted to see young women spreading their legs in thigh highs I’d tune into redtube, not a print ad selling socks.

In the future, I’d like to see American Apparel’s clothing do what clothing is supposed to do. That is, empower the people who wear them. At the very least American Apparel could start selling clothing to women by actually marketing to women? I’m thinking headless men in speedos and spandex. Revolutionary, I know.

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