Photo Credit: American Apparel
When I heard About-Face, a San Francisco-based advocacy group dedicated to helping women and girls understand and resist harmful media messages that affect their self-esteem and body image, staged an awesome piece of theater demonstration outside of the Haight Street American Apparel store, I was psyched. I have long been appalled by the actions of AA’s sexist founder and CEO, Dov Charney. The man is a snake. He’s been repeatedly involved in sexual harrassment lawsuits, sponsors butt contests and exploits his models in ads like this and this. Just take a look at the clothing company's web site, which features a gallery of "evocative images captured by our staff," including pics of barely legal-looking girls and boys sprawled across hardwood floors, spread-eagled on beds, posing on all fours, etc. In a legendary Jane magazine interview, reporter Claudine Ko described how the self-titled "Jewish Hustler" masturbated in front of her on numerous occasions.
As part of their attack, About-Face planted a faux-Dov Charney who handed out fake waivers they’d need to sign in order to model for him. Requirements included: Look dead behind the eyes; Degrade myself; Be faceless; Lose my identity; Become a nice ass.
That got me thinking about the models used by other designers. My friend, Valerie, remembers reading in Jane magazine a "how-to" on becoming a J. Crew model that included skills such as “Wear a sweater and underpants, have dewy skin and a far off look in your eyes.” I wonder what the waiver would look like for some other popular clothing lines?
bebe: Part lips. Only wear clothing with ruffles, ribbing, or strategically-placed cut-outs. Look as if you’ve just come from a club where you enjoyed bottle service and danced to Ke$ha.
Victoria’s Secret: Be Brazilian or figure out a way to maintain visible ribs along with an ample bust. Maintain ability to jump from 32B to 34DD in under a minute. Answer to “Bombshell.” Glow, but don’t perspire.
America's Next Top Model: Slightly resemble an alien and give birth to a child before the age of 20. Suffer from a fairly rare, often disfiguring condition that somehow renders you relatable and endearing (See: Asperger’s Syndrome, third degree burns, vagus nerve fainting disorder.) Ability to smize is critical. (Thanks to Amanda for inspiring this one!)
White House/Black Market: Be color-blind.
Betsey Johnson: Rock pink dreadlocks and Raggedy Anne-style makeup. Wear candy-hued party dresses to go grocery shopping. Turn cartwheels in public.
Gap Baby: Resemble the offspring of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Wear corduroys, cardigans and berets.
United Colors of Benetton: Don’t be white; if you are white, be very quirky. Enjoy wearing handcuffs, public breastfeeding (NSFW), or brazenly engaging in otherwise socially unacceptable behaviors.
Which ad campaigns bother you the most? Chime in below or add your own model waiver.