Sexy or Sexist?

Women and Advertising: How it Changes the Industry: Using Women in Video Games and Ads is not Provocative

By Kaila Tackley

American Apparel is an online only retail company located in Los Angeles, California and was founded in 1989. American Apparel has not always been online only; in fact, as of 2015 there were 110 open stores around the United States. However, all 110 of those establishments had to be closed when the company was forced to file for bankruptcy. The need for American Apparel to file for bankruptcy is most likely the result of the growing backlash the company was facing due to their highly sexualized advertisements, like the one above.

This specific advertisement was released around 2013 and its purpose is to market a unisex flannel shirt. Many people saw issues with this ad and rightfully so, the male is able to model the shirt perfectly fine when it is all the way buttoned whereas, the woman’s is covering just enough of her body for this photo to be deemed appropriate. When it comes to the male model, he has pants on and is standing in a natural, realistic stance. The woman model on the other hand, is wearing just her underwear for bottoms, and just the flannel unbuttoned, not even a bra. There is no effort put into the female model’s look and that is because the purpose isn’t to sell the shirt, it is to draw attention to the model, which will as a whole, draw attention to the entire company, causing people to buy more of their clothes. I don’t know about you but when I go shopping for clothes, I look for practicality and seeing a clothing website for a shirt that isn’t even being modeled realistically does not scream practical to me. When shopping online consumers want to know what their clothes are going to look like on them, not what they are going to look like at the end of the night when they are getting undressed.

The model on the left is photographed in a way that makes her seem submissive to a man and owned by one too; this is shown in the way her hands are placed, crossed above her head as if she’s being restrained, and the fact that she’s wearing one, half put together article of clothing. While some people see right through the irrational ad, many others are blinded by the sexiness and seductiveness it portrays and in turn want to look like those models, so they purchase their clothes. This was all done intentionally to appear more appealing to consumers because they think if the model looks sexy then so will they.

Companies using half naked models to advertise their clothing is problematic because it could distort the younger generations minds and make them think that the less clothes you wear, the more appealing you will be to a man. Having a good ad campaign is important for a company because it determines how many people are going to come buy your clothes and also the types of people who buy them. Clothing is a big part in many people’s lives and it gives them a way to express themselves, they see fashion as a hobby. Companies should be developing campaigns that portray expression and are inspiring, not ones that degrade women. It is difficult for companies to try to appeal to everyone however, there has to be another way besides exploiting women for money.