Earlier this week, a story emerged that I have just got to share with you . . .
Recently American Apparel ran a contest to find “The Next Big Thing,” and when they say “big,” they mean it literally: they were looking for a bigger woman to be the spokesperson for their new X-large size. (Notice I didn’t say plus size, but just extra large, and that’s because until now American Apparel has never offered clothing bigger than a size ten.) And after they started getting applications, they posted their photos on the contest page, so viewers could judge them in the privacy of their own homes.
Here’s the text from their call for bigger ladies:
Think you are the Next BIG Thing?
Calling curvy ladies everywhere! Our best-selling Disco Pant (and around 10 other sexy styles) are now available in size XL, for those of us who need a little extra wiggle room where it counts. We’re looking for fresh faces (and curvaceous bods) to fill these babies out. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next XLent model, send us photos of you and your junk to back it up.
Just send us two recent photographs of yourself, one that clearly shows your face and one of your body. We’ll select a winner to be flown out to our Los Angeles headquarters to star in your own bootylicious photoshoot. Runners up will win an enviable assortment of our favorite new styles in XL!
Show us what you’re workin’ with!
Forget the fact they’re trying way too hard to sound accepting, and you’re still left with the problem that their pro-curvy language is so overdone that it’s insulting. Do they really think curvy women sound that much dumber than skinny women? Do they really think we call our backsides “junk” and that we’ll want to be identified as “XLent”? Do they really think that offering us a “bootylicious photoshoot” will be appealing? And why can’t we just have a beautiful photo shoot like everyone else?
(Incidentally, Amercian Apparel, “photo shoot” is two words, but from the tone of your ad, I doubt you’d expect girls like me to know that.)
Call me crazy, but I think we’re smarter than they’re giving us credit for. And by insulting our intelligence with language that is so over-the-top that it sounds completely artificial, they’re sending the message that they don’t really take curvy girls seriously—intellectually or physically.
And it looks like I’m not the only one who was put off by American Apparel’s faux enthusiasm for curvy women because Dallas-based blogger Nancy Upton responded with an application and photos that throw American Apparel’s patronizing tone back in their face.
Upton explained why she decided to mock the contest with photos that mockingly illustrate stereotypes about curvy women: “The puns, the insulting, giggly tones, and the over-used euphemisms for fat that were scattered throughout the campaign’s solicitation began to crystalize an opinion in my mind. How offensive the campaign was. How it spoke to plus-sized women like they were starry-eyed 16 year olds from Kansas whose dream, obviously, was to hop a bus to L.A. to make it big in fashion. How apparently there were no words in existence to accurately describe the way American Apparel felt about a sexy, large woman, and so phrases like ‘booty-ful’ and “XLent” would need to be invented for us—not only to fill this void in American vocabulary, but also make the company seem like a relatable, sassy friend to fat chicks.
That was why Upton enlisted her friend Shannon Skloss to take pictures of her doing just that—being unable to put down her metaphorical piece of pizza during the photo shoot. As Upton explains on The Daily Beast, “a friend would photograph me bathing in salad dressing, chugging down chocolate sauce, and Hoovering friend chicken.”
Here are some of the pics she submitted with her her tongue-in-cheek entry . . .
See all the photos on the oldest page of her Tumbler site.
And what she wrote on her application . . .
“My name is Nancy Upton. I’m a size 12 and wanted to show American Apparel my fresh face (and full figure). My good friend Shannon Skloss came over to take some ‘booty-ful’ photos of me… but I just couldn’t stop eating.”
All I have to say is Nancy Upton is my new hero.
(And she looks gorgeous, doesn’t she?)