American Apparel is a brand notorious for its raunchy depictions of barely legal women in revealing clothing, usually undergarments. Their ads appear like some kind of homemade child porn. The women are quite young, barely clothed, and look like they are in a sexual yet child-like pose.
This ad is no different from any other I’ve come to expect from American Apparel. Here we see a young woman in only a chemise, thigh-high socks, and underwear. While she lies on an unmade bed, her hair is tousled while her makeup is minimal, which adds to the eerie feeling of homemade kiddie pornography. Additionally, the girl is staring straight at the camera blowing bubblegum, something very childlike. Her butt is popped and her back is arched, making her look like she’s ready to have a man take advantage of her, assumedly the viewer of the add. The word “Bubblicious” invokes the viewer’s physical sensations as well, making us think about the way her mouth tastes.
This advertisement is in line with many of the other ads we’ve seen in class and the critiques that have been brought against them. In her documentary Killing Us Softly 4, Jean Kilbourne points out the infantilization and pornography-like depiction of women in advertisements as a way to sell things. A random stranger will take advantage of the woman, and she goes along with it because she is happily wearing this brand.
Not only does the add connect to Kilbourne’s work, but also to John Berger’s description of women internalizing the male gaze. He writes, “She comes to consider the surveyor and surveyed within her as two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman” (Berger 37). This ad is targeting women as its customers with the knowledge that they will want to be perceived as sexy and attractive to men. The goal of this ad is to make a woman think, she looks sexy and like someone wants to get in bed with her there, I should wear this brand.
Berger, 1972, “Men Act, Women Appear”
Jean Kilbourne, “Killing Us Softly 4,” Dir. Sut Jhally, 2010, Media Education Foundation