Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Because companies are accountable

Nancy Upton made a clever spoof of American Apparel's contest for a plus sized model. The contest might have been fine but in promoting it the creative directors made lots of statements about being "bootiFul" and "XLent" and on and on. So Nancy wins the online contest, voted the winner by the online public and AA doesn't want her (and as she says she didn't want to be AA's model). Instead of leaving it at a silent non-response AA's creative director sent an open letter to Nancy and also the media outlets that had interviewed her after she won. Iris Alonzo, Creative Director for AA included her email address in the open letter. I decided to write her a letter in response to her snarky letter to Nancy.

Oh Iris,

You make much about being a fun group at American Apparel and then can't take a joke or laugh a little at yourselves. Your letter was insulting and condescending to plus size women. I particularly found offensive "There are thousands of brands in the market who have no intention of supporting natural - and completely normal - full-figured women, and American Apparel is making a conscious effort to change that, both with our models and our line. If every brand that tried to do this was met with such negative press, we may have to wait another decade for the mainstream to embrace something so simple. " If plus sized women have to accept your trite and ridiculous statements about filling out pants with full bootys then perhaps we are willing to wait another decade. There were so many other angles you could have taken that you didn't. Having that presented to you in such a clever and sincere way should have spurred you to have a laugh, develop a little insight and then embrace Nancy. Instead you make a joke out of plus sized women but turn nasty if someone makes a joke of your contest. Particularly disturbing to me was you implying that 10,000 American jobs are in jeopardy because Nancy Upton spoofed your contest. AA might be one of the only apparel companies that manufacture in the US but that does not mean AA and all its campaigns, contests or operations are sacred and untouchable.  

Erin Brumfield Grima

I love American businesses and I had an ok view of AA before this. I hate their crazy small sizing that doesn't match with most other retailers but I sort of accepted that and gave them credit for being competitive with an American based manufacturing model. I guess they think that entitles them to a pass on anything they do. If their contest was so genuine and serious and they wanted to garner a serious response from plus size women then why didn't their print for the contest reflect that? There are so many examples of clothing companies objectifying women or girls to sell, sell, sell. It only works if we buy or stay silent allowing them to think their behavior is acceptable.

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