American Apparel swimsuit ad
It's a tale as old as time: A power-hungry man crosses the line from "disgusting" to "abhorrent." Such was the narrative of Dov Charney, the now-former CEO of American Apparel who was accused of sexually assaulting an employee. There are some pretty intense photographs to support the victim's assertion, and they were enough to get Charney the boot.
But was harassment really the only factor at play? Reportedly, Charney also failed to rake in dough for the company, which realistically (and frustratingly) may have done more to seal his fate. Why? The prevailing theory is that he made the clothing company—which, admittedly, has some awesome clothing—look "lewd." Abercrombie & Fitch was accused of doing the same (and of fat-shaming, but that's a tale for another time).
Lewd, Crude and Annoying
So why the accusation of sexual crudeness? For starters, there was this menstruating vagina shirt:
Get all feminist on me if you want—but the painted fingernails make this infamous shirt look straight-up pornographic. Could this print be at a museum? Sure. But on a shirt targeted to teens and young adults, it's just not right. Can you imagine this worn at a public schools (sneaked in, of course)?
Then there were ads like this:
"Now Open" with her legs spread apart? They must talking about her mind! And don't even get us started on the company's mannequins with pubes.
Sure, it's possible to condone these marketing moves as feminist, but it's clear they're more a call for attention than anything else. These cheap shots were designed to raise eyebrows, not further the cause of female body empowerment.
Sex sells, but there's a fine line, and manipulating the public's squeamishness to boost sales isn't sexy. It's gross. Peace out, Charney!