Culture Jam Assignment

This advertisement for American Apparel clothing brand advertises its newly open stores using an image of a woman laying down with her legs spread open. The text “now open” is the largest font on the image with much smaller writing under it, which is barely legible, depicting the locations of the new stores. This advertisement is problematic in that it is sexualizing the young woman in the advertisement and using sexually suggestive body language to grab the attention of viewers. The advertisement is meant to showcase the new locations of store openings, as if to say “now open for business”. However, the pose of the model in the ad forces the viewer to associate the text with the woman being “open for sex”.

American Apparel is a clothing brand that has been under major public scrutiny for its over-sexualization of young women in their ads. In fact, some of their ads have even been banned from the UK due to this very issue.

This specific advertisement is objectifying the woman, and is depicting the oppressive view of a woman opening herself up to the male gaze. Aside from just the positioning of the model, it is the message behind the wording that makes the ad so unsettling. As the model has her legs physically spread open, along with the large “now open” text, the viewers are meant to interpret this as her being open to sexual activity. This is problematic in many ways. The positioning of the model on a bed with, her arms up behind her head, her seductive gaze, minimal clothing, and spread legs as a message that the way a woman looks or is positioned, can be indication of her willingness to engage in sex, is an incredibly toxic patriarchal view of female sexuality. Nothing should be taken as desire to engage in sex except for explicit, verbal consent to sex.


For my version of the advertisement, I cropped it just above the model’s hips in an attempt to take away from the sexual objectification. By removing the bottom part of the ad I removed the connotation of the “now open” text with the openness to have sex. This was clearly the provocative aspect of the ad meant to take attention away from the clothing or the brand, and instead focus on the woman’s body language and the woman herself as a sex symbol. There is no need for a clothing brand to sexualize a woman and compare her being “open” to sex, to new stores being open.

I also added “new stores” text above the “now open” text to clarify the message and help the viewer understand what the ad is actually for. This aids in bringing focus to the information the ad is meant to portray; that there are new stores open, instead of gearing our attention to the woman laying in a sexually suggestive pose.

The comparison of the woman’s body being open to new clothing stores being open is crude and insensitive. Perpetuating the idea that a woman’s body can be simply ‘open’ or ‘closed’, is degrading. Sex is a personal act between two (or more) people, in which much more needs to be established to gain consent besides simply physically opening up your legs to your partner. In my advertisement I removed this problematic message, in which the advertiser exploits a woman’s sexuality to sell clothes.

I believe my jammed advertisement succeeded in removing the sexualizing component of the ad and instead brings attention to the information meant to be advertised, in a more straight forward way. In my new advertisement, the focus is more on the clothing, the woman’s face, and the information; which is easier to read and more apparent than in the original ad, where the text is lost in the bed sheets off to the side of the woman’s body.