American Apparel has started ‘shopping off models’ nipples and pubic hair [NSFW]

Teenage boys who aren’t old enough to buy porn and disgraced former CEO Dov Charney alike will be gutted to learn that American Apparel has quietly begun Photoshopping the nipples and pubic hair off the models who appear in its online catalog, likely in an effort to distance itself from the creepy, pornographic vibe that’s clung to it for so long like so many mustache hairs to a pedophile’s face.

Prachi Gupta of Animal New York was the first to notice the change on Thursday, writing:

The changes can be seen on the site’s lingerie page, where each bra or panty marked “new” shows a stark contrast to older clothes: Women are airbrushed to look like plastic dolls rather than real women. It looks as though the company is phasing out the anatomical imagery, as the changes have been creeping in over the past week.

Here’s one of Animal’s side-by-side comparisons:

am-appy-nipples

The move should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following the story of Charney’s replacement by new AmAppy CEO Paula Schneider, who has been trying very hard to rid the company of Charney’s lingering doucheyness without ever overtly copping to the project. In a January interview with Forbes, she addressed it somewhat obliquely:

She was less eager to discuss the brand’s history of borderline-pornographic, often misogynistic advertising, much of it seeming to stem from founder Charney’s sleazy persona. “I think American Apparel is a cutting edge brand and there are moments in time too for different types of advertising,” Schneider said. “We’re continuing to evaluate who our consumer is and aligning our products with their beliefs and their fashion tastes.”

Unsurprisingly, the feminist warriors of the #freethenipple movement see this as a huge step backwards in the fight for…something. “American Apparel has taken many stances with their ‘legalize gay’ and ‘legalize LA’ shirts,” hashtag activist and Tata Top inventor Michelle Lytle told Animal. “To see them taking a strong stance on those issues but not on women’s equality is disappointing.”

Now look: I agree that it’s absurd to Photoshop out anatomical features of women’s bodies, especially when the alleged purpose of the photos is to “model” how the garments in question look when worn on a human person, and especially when we already have visual confirmation that the model in question does, in fact, possess nips and bush. As an embattled supporter of the “natural” look, I’ve always begrudgingly appreciated American Apparel’s commitment to it. But let’s not fool ourselves. The only reason these things were ever shown in the first place was because Dov Charney personally got off on it. Can something really count as a feminist victory if it was conceived solely as wallpaper for a serial sexual harasser’s masturbatorium?

In the end, American Apparel is a business, and it’s going to do whatever it thinks will help it sell the most mesh bodysuits to millennials. So here’s a tip: Showing women’s bodies in their natural state was never the problem. Remove the submissive, dead-eyed, about-to-do-some-shit-they-don’t-want-to-in-order-to-keep-their-jobs vibe, and you’ll be most of the way to ads that don’t make me physically ill each time I walk by your Williamsburg location. More Brendan Jordan couldn’t hurt, either.

[Animal New York|Image: American Apparel]