I have never purchased an item for American Apparel, the primary reason being that it’s run by a horrifically misogynistic perv named CEO Dov Charney, known for, among other things, allegedly sexually harassing employees and, in a legendary Jane magazine interview, masturbating in front of reporter Claudine Ko. Plus, I don’t have a need for thong leotards and haven’t worn shiny gold leggings since my eighth grade dance recital, set to the Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance.”
AA has a penchant for relying on sexually provocative ads featuring barely legal-looking girls and boys sprawled across hardwood floors, spread-eagled on beds or posing on all fours, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by their newest stunt – The Search for the Best Bottom in the World. That’s right, this is your chance to possibly be eligible to be American Apparel’s next butt model. (Note – the winner isn’t even guaranteed a photo spread; AA judges ultimately pick the winner, with the top two finalists becoming "eligible to be our next butt model." However, the top ten contestants, as voted on by the public, will win a $300 worth of American Apparel merchandise.)
Everyday women are being encouraged to submit photos of their rear ends, which will then be posted on American Apparel’s website. Once posted, visitors are asked to view, rate, and comment on the photos. This,despite the fact that the ultimate decision will be made by AA judges, not the public. In other words, the public viewing gallery and comment forum is purely gratuitous.
The current top tail belongs to Jenn, posing in red AA gym shorts. As of this blog, her fanny has been fawned over 18,930 times.
Now, AA is hardly the first company to rely on superfluous public commentary and consumption. After all, American Idol broadcasts all of the train wrecks who audition early on, even though viewers have no say in whether they succeed or fail. But there’s something about hosting a gallery of women’s butts, their faces totally obscured, and then leaving a space for free-for-all commentary and ranking, that makes me sick to my stomach. True, the women are actually submitting their photos of their own volition, so I suppose they don’t need/deserve our pity or compassion, should they garner a hurtful comment or land in the 192/199 spot (currently occupied by“Monstro”, a man, cheekily sporting pink unisex briefs.)
But what angers me is that we even have to live in a world where “best bottom” contests exist. Why is it that young girls have to grow up thinking the way to fortune and fame and, dare I say, love, is through a photo of their nearly-bare almost-private parts? (I guarantee you, no one is submitting photos of fully covered bums in this contest. The more cheek, the better, I bet. And many of these women are bending over as far as legally possible in their entries.) Also, although the contest rules state you must be over 18 to enter, I doubt there's any real way of monitoring whether underage girls are submitting photos of themselves,which means the American Apparel web site could currently be hosting a whole mess of child porn.
Plus, the fact that would-be rump models need to send in a close-up pic of their backsides but only if they’re wearing American Apparel panties, bodysuits or briefs ensures that the company is making as much money as possible off of desperate contestants who must now go out and purchase AA apparel to even be considered.
And honestly, I think part of my anger stems from insecurity. I may be a body image blogger and author, but I’m also a woman and I’m not immune to insecurity. Hardly. I don’t walk around all day every day singing songs about how much I love my body, and it just so happens that the body part I’m least secure about is my heinie. So you can imagine how incredibly crappy perusing this gallery has made me feel. I likely won’t be blogging next week, as my days will be consumed with lunges, squats, and celery.