Britain's ad watchdog agency, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), just banned an American Apparel ad (pictured) which appeared on the back of Vice magazine, after the group received two complaints against the image for appearing to sexualize a child. The ASA is oddly vigilant about age-appropriateness in British advertising, having previously gone after Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs for similar reasons. Here in America, we won't even buy toothpaste unless there's a pair of pleading Bambi eyes pictured on the tube.
Responding to the ASA's charge that the ad was “offensive and irresponsible,” American Apparel said the image was actually quite “tame and tasteful" by fashion and underwear standards. You say potato, I say potahto.
I feel torn. On one hand, I've long felt that American Apparel's whole schtick is "offensive and irresponsible." But for once, the retailer does have a point: apart from the grimy basement aesthetic, which lends American Apparel ads a sleazy porny vibe, the content is not especially provocative. The picture shows a pantless, knee-socked girl sitting on a chair, wearing an I-really-like-that-sweater sweater. It looks like she's in the process of undressing more fully, maybe even for the purpose of Having the Sex, as the kids say. Let it be noted, for the record, that the position of her legs does reveal a flash of pantied crotch.
If the model were very young, I would feel differently, but American Apparel confirmed to WWD that she was over eighteen. Also, bear in mind that the ad appeared in Vice — hardly a bastion of taste and decency to begin with — and targets, like, insufferable 23-year-old alt-bros in bands, and the girls who want to date them.
Aaaaand I've just defended an American Apparel ad. Please, please never put me in this position again.
Image via WWD