an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

American Apparel: Best Butt Contest

Posted by Rosepixie on April 6, 2010

American Apparel recently held a contest to find “the best bottom in the world”.  Anyone could enter, but they had to submit photographs of their butts wearing American Apparel clothing to be posted on the website and voted on and commented on by users.  Anyone could then vote and comment on any photograph they wanted.  The winners were chosen by the company, but the winners of the popular vote got prizes too.

Of course, when you went to the website, the first page you saw was the women’s category.

Notice the poses and the choices of clothing in the featured pictures.  The large picture at the top cycled through different images.

Here’s the guy’s page, which you had to choose to go to via a tiny link in the top corner of the screen that I completely missed until I went looking for it, wondering if this was a women’s only contest or if I was missing something (you can see the link in the image).

See how very different this page feels than the women’s page?  There’s a few sexualized poses, but not nearly as many and none of the men are exposing nearly as much skin as pretty much all of the women are.  Hell, one of them isn’t even a picture of someone’s butt!

Not surprisingly, I have quite a few problems with this particular marketing gimmick.  First of all, the presentation is awful.  Asking people to send in pictures of their butts is one thing, but posting them online and encouraging others to vote and comment on them is quite another.  Much of the site is basically soft-core porn images and the comments are horrid and demeaning, as the images are being treated as porn.  This is just about the worst kind of objectification and even worse than the passive objectification that is usually fed to us in advertisements, this promotion actually invites us to participate in objectifying people, judging them and commenting on their body parts.

Second, this promotion specifically restricts what contestants can wear when entering.  All entries must portray contestants wearing American Apparel garments from specified categories (panties (women), bodysuits (women) or briefs(men)).  Since all of the products available for men to wear are less revealing than the products allowed for women to wear, they already have a major advantage in the objectification department in this case.  There are numerous styles available for women, but they are almost universally smaller garments than those available to the men and there are several thong and string options, which there are none of in the men’s category.  This makes the contest even more heavily forced into the soft-core porn territory it likely would have fallen into anyway (given the topic).  It also restricts the entrants to only previous customers of American Apparel.

Now, American Apparel is known for it’s objectifying and sexist ads, so this really shouldn’t be a surprise.  It just sort of hit a new low, in my opinion.  This is the company getting free advertising images from customers that they can use on their website with little cost to themselves (effectively none if they rig the contest so that they choose someone they wanted to model for them in the first place).  It’s pretty revolting.  I knew there was a reason I’d never bought anything from them.

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3 Responses to “American Apparel: Best Butt Contest”

  1. Eva said

    I’m curious, what are the most revealing men’s underwear that American Apparel makes? I mean, if there isn’t a parallel to the g-string I don’t think it excuses this behavior by any means. What they’re doing is degrading to both genders, I’m just wondering if the bias is in their lines or in their selection of lines for the contest.

    • Rosepixie said

      The underwear in the pictures are about the most revealing styles American Apparel makes for men. I checked their website when writing this post and found exactly three styles for men. All three can be seen in the image above (1. a “tighty whitey” style seen in pink in the bottom row, a short-shorts style seen in red in the top row, and a longer, tight shorts style seen in black in the top row).

      There were tons of styles for women ranging from shorts-styles to full-coverage panties to thongs to the skimpiest of g-strings, many available in lots of colors or patterns or even lace. There were not only many more options for women, but there were really only women had “sexy” underwear options to choose from.

  2. pretty8up said

    I am a new follower of your blog for SURE! i am focusingn on advertisement and all it glorious garb. THANK YOU! And follow me to be on the lookout for this american apparel parody!

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