Tag Archives: advertising

if mother nature didn’t like curves, she would have made the world flat

Levi's Advertisement

Levi’s Advertisement

Entertainment, fashion, advertising and other industries have an uncanny way of making both men and women feel their bodies are unacceptable. They capitalize upon the insatiable desires to obtain the unobtainable, that is the ideas of perfection that are splashed before our eyes in film, television, magazines, the internet, etc.

Then… every so often a campaign that supports the idea of loving your self and your body comes along and makes some waves. Love the Levis copy “If mother nature didn’t like curves, she would have made the world flat.” And as the Lady Gaga Born This Way lyrics state, that thanks to the DJ’s that be have been deeply etched into our psyche, “There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are… So hold your head up… Just love yourself…”

It’s up to each and every one of us to be discerning about what we allow in and out of our psyches and to choose what we will believe. I say…

L O V E  Y O U R  C U R V E S

We’ve all got ’em and they’re not going anywhere. Some are bigger, some are smaller but they are all yours. Own them! Shake them! Embrace them! They make up the beautiful shape of your unique body. The body that you live in. The body that carries you from place to place. The body that asks only for nourishment, hydration, rest and respect.

L O V E  Y O U R  B O D Y

How do you treat your body? What do you say to your body? Do you have a positive self-loving internal dialogue? Or is it more negative and damaging? Are there harmful mantras that you have whispered to yourself for so long that you don’t even realize it anymore? You are not alone (see here). But there is hope! You can consciously change those damaging whispers into empowering mantras that will lift you up instead of crush you (see here). We must all make our own choices about what we allow in and what we keep out, what we let impact us and what we disregard. Consider the external messages you receive and what you internalize. Take note of the messages to change, alter and tweak yourself to perfection and replace them with the reality that you can accept yourself as you are. There is nothing wrong with you!

I leave you with this. Y O U  A R E  P E R F E C T. Don’t change a thing!
(pass it on)

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don’t dish it out if you can’t take it

Nancy Upton submitted photos of herself to American Apparel in response to their plus-sized campaign call:

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!

Despite finding the contest “sarcastic, condescending and insulting,” Nancy Upton won the popular vote. What did she win? A letter of explanation from American Apparel’s Creative Director as to why, despite winning the popular vote, she will not be the actual winner of the contest:

Dear Nancy Upton,

My name is Iris Alonzo and I am a Creative Director at American Apparel. Along with four other women, I conceived of the Next BIG Thing campaign for American Apparel. Firstly, we are very sorry that we offended you. Our only motive was to discover and celebrate the many beautiful XL women around the globe who enjoy our brand, and to promote the recent size additions to our collection. Nothing more, nothing less. We would also like to assure you that no one is getting fired over your stunt, as you expressed concern about in a recent interview. We are fortunate to have a great boss who trusts and believes in our instincts and ideas, and we are still very excited about all of our Next BIG Things and looking forward to meeting our new XL brand ambassadors.

It’s a shame that your project attempts to discredit the positive intentions of our challenge based on your personal distaste for our use of light-hearted language, and that “bootylicous” was too much for you to handle. While we may be a bit TOO inspired by Beyoncé, and do have a tendency to occasionally go pun-crazy, we try not to take ourselves too seriously around here. I wonder if you had taken just a moment to imagine that this campaign could actually be well intentioned, and that my team and I are not out to offend and insult women, would you have still behaved in the same way, mocking the confident and excited participants who put themselves out there? Maybe you’ll find it interesting that in addition to simply responding to customer demand and feedback, when you’re a vertically-integrated company, actual jobs are created from new size additions. In this case, for the XL women who will model them, industrial workers that make them, retail employees that sell them and beyond. That’s the amazing reality of American Apparel’s business.

Though I could spend hours responding to your accusations and assumptions, this isn’t the appropriate forum for that, so I will only briefly address a few issues here. In regards to April Flores’ “that’s not our demographic” experience, I don’t recall the name of the confused employee credited with saying that, but he or she was sadly uninformed, and our company certainly does not endorse their statement. For as long as I can remember, we have offered sizes up to 3XL in our basic styles, and as far as adding larger sizes to the rest of our line is concerned, if there is the demand and manufacturing power to support it, we’re always game. 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.

In the past, American Apparel has been targeted for various reasons, many times by journalists who weren’t willing to go the extra mile to even visit the factory or meet the people in charge. Dov is a great executive director and American Industrialist, but there are hundreds of other decision-makers in our company, over half of whom are women. I suppose you have read a few too many negative pieces about us that have helped to form your opinion of who we are and what we stand for, and perhaps this has clouded your ability to give us a chance. I get it. I read some of it too. As a creative who isn’t always the most tactful and tends to stay away from the limelight, maybe I haven’t spoken up as much as I should have over the past 8 years that I’ve worked at American Apparel. Perhaps I could have shed some light on some issues that have been left cloudy over the years. However, sensational media will always need something to latch on to and success, spandex and individuality (and mutton chops circa 2004) are certainly easy targets. And who knows – maybe the PR ups and downs are all part of our DNA as a company. What I do know is that after all the years I have been working for this company I can wholeheartedly say that American Apparel is an amazing and inspiring place to work. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can represent of a ton of people I know when I say that we really like Dov and we passionately believe in his vision for a beautiful factory with sustainable practices. We are the largest sewing factory in North America, after all…10,000 jobs is nothing to sniff at. A lot of people would be very sad if this company wasn’t around.

That said, we realize that we are in no way perfect and that we’re still learning. We want to do better or differently in many areas, and we are actively working on them every day. You’re literally witnessing a transparent, sincere, innovative, creative company go through puberty in the spotlight of modern media. It’s not easy!

Oh – and regarding winning the contest, while you were clearly the popular choice, we have decided to award the prizes to other contestants that we feel truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out, and whom we will be proud to have representing our company.

Please feel free to contact me directly anytime. If you want to know the real scoop about our company before writing a story, I’ve got it (or if I don’t, I can put you in touch with the person that does!).

Best of luck,

Iris Alonzo
Creative Director
American Apparel

Ms. Upton told the Daily Beast “…the message that a subservient, nearly naked woman has always earned a place in American Apparel’s advertising with no trouble, but that larger women need to vote each other down and compete against one another to even deserve a chance… I decided that instead of rolling my eyes and saying “ick” as I’d done in the past, I’d get off my “full-sized fanny” and craft a response. A new level of my mind had been offended by their actions, so a new level of reaction was required.”

While Ms. Upton admits to her photos having a sarcastic tone, they do display a similar tone to American Apparel’s typical advertisements that objectify women (see photos both above and below). Contest aside, it feels confusing to me that American Apparel would be so offended by photos so characteristic of their own creativity.

This conflict has received a good deal of press and since then, American Apparel has invited Ms. Upton to it’s Los Angeles factory to meet with the creative directors who designed the contest.


honte sur vous vogue paris

A few months prior to Vogue Italia trying its hand at broadening the stringent societal definition of beauty in their July 2011 ‘Real Beauties’ issue (see Real Women Have Curves), the 15-page photo spread of the 10-year-old French model, Thylane Lena-Rose Blandeau (see here for photos), graced the January 2011 issue of Vogue Paris, leaving the Parent’s Union up in arms about the sexualization of children in the media. Their statement to the Daily Mail: ‘Photo shoots requiring her, a ten-year-old-girl, to dress in full make-up, teetering heels and a dress with a cleavage cut to the waist across her prepubescent body deny Miss Blondeau the right to be the child she is.’

Thylane does not stand alone. Elle Fanning, 13, and Hailee Steinfeld, 14, have also signed on with top designers.

This so beautifully represents the ubiquitous tug of war that occurs with more and more frequency and vigor. What do you think? How young is too young?


not pretty enough

Lancôme was recently taken to task with complaints about their use of photo-altering techniques in advertisements featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington. It seems that even these two beauties are not pretty enough to escape an airbrusher’s heavy hand.

The complaints spoke directly to the advertising of unrealistic images of beauty and its societal backlash and were subsequently banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. Hats off to Jo Swinson for making the call to the Advertising watchdog and for getting the ball rolling.

Take away: While Swinson may have had her political background and Parliament on her side, we all have the power to make these calls and demands. I remember a dog food commercial that aired in maybe 2003-ish. It suggested that dogs were overweight and needed to be put on a diet. While there are times when this may be true and different types of mealplans or dog food may be in order, that was not the intent of this commercial. The ad was taken off the air after the manufacturer was inundated with angry consumers reacting to the message.

So… if it bothers you, say something! We do have the power to affect change!

To read full story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2019162/Julia-Roberts-Christy-Turlington-L-Oreal-adverts-banned-airbrushing.html


guidelines for advertising

Kudos to the American Medical Association (AMA) who, yesterday, adopted several new policies, one of which recognizes the impact of advertising and media on children & adolescents, self-esteem and body image. This particular policy encourages advertising associations to join forces with health organizations in an effort to develop guidelines for advertising, e.g.: discouraging the use of altered images. http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/news/news/a11-new-policies.page

This is a great step… let’s see what develops from this encouragement.


our media

The average American is exposed to over 3000 advertising messages every day.
Companies spend about $12 billion on advertising products to children.
Advertising tries to tell us who we are and who we should be. It sends messages about how we should act, dress, look, feel and behave.
Media pressures kids to be more like adults.

Why media matters…
Condones violent and aggressive behavior
Glamorizes tobacco, alcohol and other drugs
Endorses poor nutrition, unhealthy dieting, obesity
Reinforces poor body image and self-concept
Instigates early and risky sexual behavior

Does all media send unhealthy messages…
Absolutely not. There are plenty of healthy messages out there but unfortunately, they tend to be overshadowed by the negative messages that are are too often turned inward and used negatively against ourselves. Additionally, there is a societal pull for these unhealthy messages to continue. I remember when the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was launched. I was amazed, relieved and so proud of them for taking a risk (unfortunately it was a “risk”) by honoring women of all shapes, sizes and ages in their advertising. I was extraordinarily surprised when I heard that a poll was done about these ads and it revealed a large minority of consumers who preferred the unrealistic images of beauty that are more typically found in the advertising world. So… I do not solely blame the media, our fashion designers and the business executives who want to capitalize on their products. I encourage all of use to reflect upon our own self-esteem, ideals, wishes and judgments of ourselves and others and the ways in which they may draw us individually, and as a society, towards the unhealthier media messages.

What can we do…
Empower ourselves, our children and those around us.
Be discerning about what we see, read and believe. Recognize unhealthy AND healthy messages.
Talk about the messages we receive from our media and how it impacts us.
Ask questions about the message being sent and the intention of that message, e.g.: What is this trying to sell me? What is this ad telling me that I need in order for my life to be better, more complete, or for me to feel better about myself?
Consider what the advertiser is wanting the us to think or feel.
Question what we see in advertisements.
Remember that digital imaging has changed the world… (the average issue of Vogue contains over 400 manipulated images)

Read on…If you would like to read on, I offer you my FAVORITE book about media messages: “Can’t Buy My Love” by Jean Kilbourne.