The Bent Over Cartoon Character That Ruined My Sunday

I’m warning you now that I don’t really have anything articulate to say about the following photo.  This is sign I saw walking through Wicker Park last weekend in Chicago:

photo (70)

I feel vaguely assaulted. This is my sunday afternoon. It’s raining, I’m drinking my coffee, I’m doing errands, I don’t want to have to confront the hypersexual idealized form of this woman that American Apparel seems to want me to want to be. I’m not in the mood to soapbox about body diversity. I’m not in the mood to rant about what I think it does to girls when this is the image they see over and over again. Why am I still surprised by these things? This is not new. This is not different. I see this everywhere and I am bothered by it every single time.

There are kids around and this is not what I want them to think is “how to be sexy.” Wear a bathing suit and high heels. Have long mermaid hair. Be thin. Bend over. This is not how I feel sexy and I don’t think it’s how most women feel sexy (though, as always, if pulling this posture gets you going, be my guest). I don’t even think this is what most men find sexy. I think this is an extremely narrow vision of sexy cooked up by a porn-soaked graphic designer and a brand that picks campaigns that consistently stage women as  objects just waiting for sex:

Google "American Apparel Ads"

Google “American Apparel Ads”

Yes, yes, yes, I know… sex sells. I get that. This is not a plea for modesty or celibacy or anything so extreme. This is a plea for some sense of time and place, for context and propriety. There is room for sexuality in advertising, but there is no room in my Sunday stroll for a bent-over cartoon woman holding her ankles. Put that shit away.

Related Post: American Apparel’s “Next Big Thing” Contest

Related Post: But how old is she really? On underage models.

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11 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Body Image, Chicago, Media, Sex

11 responses to “The Bent Over Cartoon Character That Ruined My Sunday

  1. Marilyn

    Got your attention, didn’t it, Em?

  2. “I think this is an extremely narrow vision of sexy cooked up by a porn-soaked graphic designer and a brand that picks campaigns that consistently stage women as objects just waiting for sex”

    You are so right–all those images usually make me sad and sickened, too. It’s wrong to portray women in only sexual terms (or this is the ONLY sexy way), it’s wrong to portray only one kind of beauty, and it makes me sad for young girls. I’ve nannied (in Chicago, actually!), and I saw the young girls I nannied constantly wondering whether they were thin enough or pretty enough or sexy enough–they aren’t even that old! Yikes.

  3. I am absolutely horrified at their advertising. Normally when I see ads (one at a time) I can ignore them. I suppose I’ve been desensitized, in a way. But when you put a bunch of American Apparel ads all together like that, it seems so much more despicable.

  4. American apparel has the worst ads ever….I mean look at em! Ain’t nothing ‘merican about em! No flags…no eagles…no..explosions…sorry AA, but your store is not my ‘merica.

  5. That Google montage is really frightening. This is not even soft porn, some of it is definitely serious porn. I’m with you, I find every single image like this that I see sickening. I fear for our children. Thank you for being out there challenging this stuff.

  6. I once had a (male) friend point out to me that “American Apparel does a really good job of selecting their models. They are all modest and their bodies are actually curvy and reasonable. I respect them for that.” I wanted to punch him in the face.

  7. joulesm

    Thank you for posting this. I posted your article to Miss Representation’s facebook page to bring awareness to the #notbuyingit campaign. I already don’t shop at American Apparel but now I’m motivated to spread some unflattering publicity for them.

  8. Jo

    “sex sells” Does it? not to me – it turns me off whether directed at men or women
    “There is room for sexuality in advertising” Is there? You know I used to avoid voicing my opinion on this type of advertising for fear of being labled a prude or frigid and taking the fun out of everything. It meant that I apologetically voiced my distaste for this sort of thing. It hasn’t stopped and it hasn’t lessened. I think its time I voiced my true feelings on this subject. I hate this type of advertising. I hate it. Its cheap, tacky and treats its demographic as unintelligent slaves to our sexual appetites. Its demeaning to both men and women. Its far far away from beautiful paintings of male and female nudes which were a celebration of the human body in all its diverse forms. This is just about sex. I feel belittled. I am no longer a teenager, I am an adult – one with intelligence. Why not advertise to our intelligent minds, make me laugh, make me think, make me question – but don’t make me roll my eyes or stick my fingers down my throat anymore. Don’t make me cover my childs face and have an awkward moment between my husband and I. I hate that. I don’t think there is room for it in advertising. Leave it in films, art, books, imagination where it belongs, and the best and fun place of all, between 2 people.

  9. Pingback: Lady Art | rosiesaysblog

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