American Apparel has long been noted for its racy ads; its website features girls scantily clad—even in see-through clothing with nipples and genitals visible—and often comes across as almost pornographic. Their ad campaigns have a history of receiving backlash from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), many eventually banned for their racy content. This advertisement, in particular, is for bodysuits and thigh highs (though you would not necessarily be able to tell) and utilizes fragmentation of the body in order to sexualize the image. The model—headless, and only comprising of a bottom half—is shown in various sexual positions, including with her legs spread apart, her butt in the air, and kneeling suggestively on a bed. By choosing to show only sexualized parts of the model’s body—legs, genitals, buttocks, some cleavage—American Apparel dehumanizes the model as simply a commodified object for sexual gratification. This is a common technique, according to the documentary Dreamworlds 3, in music videos, advertising, and other media to cater to the straight, male viewer; it conveys to young women that this is what men want to see—and, therefore, that it should be imitated—and only perpetuates among men that this is the standard of female beauty and sexuality to be expected. This type of advertising encourages the notion that women should be valued for their beauty and sexuality, specifically individual body parts that are pleasing to men. Indeed, this ad makes one wonder if they are aiming to sell the clothing or the woman’s commodified body parts featured in the photos.
Ellie Krupnick. “American Apparel, ASA oOn The Outs Again With New Banned Ads (PHOTOS).” Style. Huffington Post. April 10, 2013. Accessed October 22, 2013 from https://genderandsociety2013.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php.