Culture Jam Assignment: American Apparel

Original Ads

Image 1:                                                                                 Image 2:

image1original            Ad_Vice 081209.ai

Brief Analysis of the Original Ads

The advertisements that I have decided to choose for this assignment are images that were released by the North American clothing company, American Apparel. This store has been known to stir up lots of controversy on multiple occasions based on their advertising techniques that promote the objectification of women. Unfortunately, these tactics are not uncommon in today’s fashion and media industry, and the photographs above are no exception.

Due to the fact that we know that both advertisements have been created and promoted by a fashion company, we can assume the text, ‘Tights’ in large block letters, is meant to be representing the promotion of sales of women’s hosiery and stockings.

In the first ad, titled ‘Image 1’, we see a woman’s body from the waist down wearing maroon coloured tights. However, when comparing that image to the one beside it, it is blatantly apparent that it is referring to the word ‘tights’ in an entirely different context. Here, we see the model lying on a bed in a provocative nature, which we can infer from her tensed shoulders, closed eyes, and parted lips, as if she is actually engaging in some sort of sexual encounter. In this case, we can presume the word ‘tight’ could implicitly be suggesting the physicality of a woman’s vagina (typically thought of in a ‘virginal’ sense) rather than the article of clothing in question.

Similarly, I could not help but compare this ad to another one of American Apparel’s hosiery photographs, in which they used Faye Reagan, a female porn star, as their model by posing her in a way that made her backside the primary focus of the picture, with her legs slightly parted in a suggestive manner. We can also see that she is lying in such a way that it makes the rest of her body more hidden and further back from the camera, as if underlying the importance of her as an actual person, letting her gaze seductively straight into the lens.

Both of these instances are highly problematic in that the sexualisation of women in their advertisements is overpowering the actual point of these ads, which is to sell the product. American Apparel is literally playing on and endorsing the concept that ‘sex sells’ in today’s society.

Jammed Version of the Ads

Image 1:                                                                          Image 2:

tights3edited      greentightsculturejammed

Brief Explanation of Jammed Ads

In my culture jammed version of these advertisements, I decided to look at changing the Faye Reagan example (Image 2) by playing around with word choice. Instead of it just saying ‘Tights’, I transformed it into ‘She’s Tight Just for You’ to further highlight the transparent message the ad is actually conveying. It is meant to show the absurdity of the fact that while the product is meant to be worn by women, the photoshoots themselves deliver ads to the public that seem to be targeted towards a male, voyeuristic audience in which the female body is hyper-sexualized for male pleasure.

For the other ad (Image 1), I chose to eliminate the image of the model on the left side entirely to eliminate the largely sexual aspect of the ad, as well as to take away the idea of selling women’s bodies for profit. In its place, I wanted to replace it with the dictionary definition of what type of ‘tights’ the ad is intended to be selling to really get the point across that they are marketing a product, which is a piece of clothing, not the women modeling the clothes.

In summary, the fashion industry remains to be a huge contribution to the problem where women’s bodies are far too often portrayed as merely sex objects for people to gaze at. There are many ways in which a majority of controversial fashion advertisements could cease being made in an offensive and derogatory way toward women, and still sell clothing. Nevertheless we have yet to see a decent number of companies changing to use more positive types of marketing strategies.

 

Works Cited:

American Apparel (Photographer). (2015, August 3). Faye Reagan Tights [digital image]. Retrieved from http://imgur.com/bxSvfZa.

American Apparel (Photographer). (n.d.). Tights [digital image]. Retrieved from: http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/gallery/21016/28/american-apparel-advertisement-archive.

Tights. 2016. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tights.

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