American Apparel's Definition of Unisex is Anything but Equal

By Hayden Manders, Refinery29

.Controversy and American Apparel go hand-in-hand - and this time, the L.A.-based company is receiving flack for its "honkingly sexist" ads, as one Twitter user put it. In visuals for a Unisex Flannel Button-Up, the controversy surrounds the definition of the word "unisex," and we have to agree on this one. They've photographed women either sans pants or a barely-there g-string, wearing the flannel strategically unbuttoned and open to cover their breasts, whereas the men are photographed fully clothed. Something's a little off here, no?

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American Apparel claims the photographs are artistic. "Unfortunately, some bloggers have confused an artistic photoshoot which accompany the pages with a product shot and a controversy erupted as a result," a spokesman for the brand said. True, the product shots of both men and women feature no nudity and are pretty conservative for American Apparel standards, but that's not the point. A Swedish blogger documented her shopping experience and thought process as she paged through AA's online store, and what she found out tends to debunk the aforementioned statement. She discovered the creative behind American Apparel's unisex campaign consistently shows men clothed and hanging out with buddies, while women are photographed alone and in suggestive poses without pants - and hardly wearing the very shirt both sexes are supposed to go out and buy.

"We don't think there is anything in these photos out of synch with our standards," the spokesman commented. Those standards, however, appear to make women into sex objects and portray men as sharp-dressed, deadpan dudes. One could argue it's all about showing off the clothes, but when a woman is involved, it seems like her body is really the main object on display. It's about gratuitous sex and exploitation - like the shirt is meant to cover-up, tease, and ultimately be removed. Yeah, sex sells and all that, but c'mon American Apparel, this is a flannel shirt, not lingerie.

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