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American Apparel Back-to-School ad spurs outcry

The image was uploaded to the American Apparel UK Instagram page, but has since been removed.
EdChron Desk on August 10, 2014 - 1:38 pm in EdNews, MAIN, U.K., U.S., World


WORLD – “Your first assignment is to dress accordingly.” These words, accompanied by a racy upskirt photo of a young girl, spurred backlash by many on social media. The image was uploaded to the American Apparel UK Instagram page, but has since been removed. Although it is gone from Instagram similar photos are easily spotted on the American Apparel webpage that features miniskirts and crop-tops.

Online outrage

Twitter user @anygirlfriday took a screenshot and tweeted American Apparel is “fueling Lolita fantasies and rampant sexism a plenty”. The image has been removed on the AA’s UK instagram and website since. Others have called the ad “disgusting”, “sexist” and “gross”. @DeborahEvanson made this comment:


Twitter wasn’t the only way that people let their opinions be heard. Stacey Butler of KCAL9 took to the streets of Orange County, California, the same county where American Apparel is based in Los Angeles, to ask mothers and daughters what they thought of the ad.

CBS Los Angeles also posted the news on its Facebook page.


Some of the responses that she got were from people that were clearly disturbed and upset by the advertisement. One woman said: “I think that’s outrageous. I have a little girl; I wouldn’t want for her to be showing that.” Another said: “I think they’re selling sex. I don’t think that’s OK for that age group.” See the video from CBSLA coverage below:

Irresponsible fashion giant?

There were other shoppers who would continue to shop at American Apparel. One shopper Beth Jones said, “It’s weird because I shop here at times, but often I don’t agree with a lot of the ads. I feel like I’m not following along with my own moral compass.” Being “too sexy” or controversial isn’t something new for American Apparel.

Their founder, Dov Charney was served with lawsuits by his employees on sexual harassment allegations (one of them is here, hat-tip to TMZ). In 2012, its ad campaigns were banned because they were”sexualizing underage girls”. In 2011, they used a picture of a topless young model to promote what they call “natural beauty”. Charney was also axed in June 2014 from American Apparel for his conduct and slumping company financials. He is still involved with the company as a “consultant”.

In today’s day and age where many teenage girls battle the silent, inner demons of bulimia, anorexia and social acceptance, American Apparel’s most recent campaign seems to push the boundaries of tasteful marketing in the name of creativity and profitability.

To many marketers, bad publicity is still publicity.

Main image credit: American Apparel

What do you think of risque advertisements that cast female models who look like minors in campaigns that target the teenage demographic?


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