Branding Feminism

01.17.146:48 PM ET

American Apparel Responds to Hairy Mannequin Questions

Just another branded appeal towards “natural beauty.”

An American Apparel representative responded to the hairy bushes featured on the merchandiser's downtown Manhattan window display this past week. The rep told ELLE the unshaven mannequins were meant to celebrate "natural beauty." The rep added, "We created it to invite passersby to explore the idea of what is 'sexy' and consider their comfort with the natural female form. This is the same idea behind our advertisements which avoid many of the Photoshopped and airbrushed standards of the fashion industry."  

This comes on the same day the Internet went on an upheavel over Lena Dunham's re-touched photoshoot for Vogue. Jezebel, a long-time truth-teller of Photoshop lies, announced a $10,000 bounty for anyone who could supply Dunham's unedited, "natural" pictures. Dunham often bares her body—unconventional only by Hollywood standards—on her hit HBO comedy Girls, making her retouched Vogue photos particularly juicy for page hits, but not really a productive cause to throw a couple thousand dollars to. Several writers called out Jezebel for pandering for page views, using a feminist-hot-button issue to drive traffic. Vogue, a fashion magazine that exists to sell us ideals we can't achieve, feels no guilt about tucking up Dunham's cleavage, and apparently neither does Dunham. She tweeted today, "some shit is just too ridiculous to engage with." 

American Apparel seems to be jumping on the same bandwagon with its pube-proud mannequins. Last fall, the merchandiser sold a shirt by artist Petra Collins of a hairy, bloody, pleasured full-frontal vagina. Days later, Collins released a picture of her hairy pubes on Instagram, only to have her account shut down due to "indecency." Collins cried censorship and drew attention to the media's regulation of women's bodies. American Apparel's mannequins could be a nod to Collins, but they also could be another attempt at driving the brand's "socially aware" appeal. While American Apparel may claim support over "natural beauty," their naturally beautiful models have sued CEO Dov Charney for sexual harassment, proving his preoccupation for women's bodies might be a bit suspect. Not to mention, naturally hairy or not, the mannequins still present the same bodies we expect to see from Vogue—tall, thin, and white—unrealistic. We are all for hairy bushes, but we can also spot a marketing scheme when we see one.