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In this racy and abstract American Apparel advertisement, it is difficult for the user to really see what the company is trying to sell. In the photo, the woman is proactively having her legs spread apart by a (presumably) male model. Seeing that American Apparel is a clothing brand, the company is trying to mix misogynic culture into their advertisements. The advertisement has heavy connotations of it being a precursor to sex. While sex is a healthy and natural activity, using it for commercial purposes, especially for such a publicized brand, is not.
One may argue that both models were consenting adults and both were dressed quite casually, but the issue lies within this photo being distributed as a piece of mass media. Unlike pornographic videos or photos, this advertisement will not have to be filtered and has not control over the demographics of who comes into contact with it. The objectification of women as “commodities” is highly dehumanizing and is far from promoting sex as a healthy aspect in life. By portraying women as sexual objects is sexist and can encourage misogyny – especially when the image is instilled into the minds of younger audiences. When this photo is distributed to the public, the company is inadvertently contributing to the patriarchal ideas of how a woman’s worth is placed on her sexual value and sexual organs. This further reinforces the concept that a woman’s purpose in this society is to be sexually and aesthetically pleasing to men.
The advertisement can have detrimental effects on both female and male viewers. For males, it will encourage them to reduce women into sexual objects, thus promoting the notion that women are not “equal” beings with men. They are walking sex objects. As for female viewers, especially for the younger generations, they will be given the impression that they should not aim for higher goals in life, since their goal is to be appealing to men. This restricts their self-esteem and seems to tell females that they are not equal to males.
Since American Apparel is a clothing brand, its advertisements should be designed in a way that places its products as the main focus. A list of alterations I made and their purposes:
- The model laying down is given a pair of pants, thick leg hair and socks. The purpose of doing so is to remove any gender signs from the model. This makes it less sexual because users are not explicitly being told whether the model is female or male. Also, it allows the company to showcase as many products as possible. Prior to the alterations, the model was wearing nothing except for shoes, but now they can sell their pants and socks as well.
- The model that is standing is given very long hair, a necklace, bracelet and a watch. Again, this allows the company to showcase its products, which furthers reinforces the purpose of the advertisement. It is now difficult for the audience to clearly define the gender of this model due to the accessories the model is wearing, and because of the hairstyle (assuming that it is the norm for males to have shorter hair).
By providing both models with androgynous traits, this prevents the audience from objectifying either model. The alterations made in this photo are supposed to invoke feelings of curiosity and the impression that sexuality is healthy and normal. The lack of gender signs in this photo enables the audience to focus on this instead. Any forms of misogyny and objectification are removed because the portrayals of both models are so obscure. In addition to this, the advertisement also promotes positive body-image because it infers the notion that pink bracelets and other gender-targeted products are restricted to only males or females. Everyone should feel comfortable wearing what they want.