Hardy Girls Healthy Women Protest American Apparel’s Best Bottom Contest

Megan Williams, Executive Director of Hardy Girls Healthy Women writes:

Hardy Girls Healthy Women (HGHW) is leading a campaign to get California-based clothing company American Apparel to pull their highly offensive and dangerous “Best Bottom Contest” ad campaign. American Apparel is looking for the best bottom in the world to be the “face” of their new ad campaign. They’re inviting girls (18yo & older) to upload pictures of their butts to the website wearing American Apparel underwear or body suits. Visitors to the site then have the option to judge the submissions with a score of 1-5 and add comments about the submissions.

Hardy Girls’ Executive Director Megan Williams notes “This campaign is not just offensive, but it’s dangerous. The objectification of girls’ and women’s bodies is a real concern in a country where 1 in 4 women is a victim of violence, and sexual harassment is rampant. This ad campaign invites girls to self-objectify, encouraging them to post pictures of just one body part and inviting others to comment and rate them. It’s unreal that American Apparel would launch this campaign on the heels of ‘sexting’ scandals where girls are being prosecuted for sending sexually explicit images of themselves via text and other forms of digital media.”

Dr. Lyn Mikel Brown, an education professor at Colby College and co-founder of Hardy Girls Healthy Women is concerned not just about the campaign’s invitation to girls and women to self-objectify but also the wider implications for girls and their healthy development. “The jury is in. The sexualization and objectification of girls and women in media wreak havoc on our psychological, emotional, cognitive, and relational lives,” says Dr. Brown.

As Thalia, age 19, says in the organization’s blog post about the ad campaign, “You don’t need to exploit us to benefit your company. Someone that is a CEO should have more common sense, don’t you think?”

The group is leading an awareness-raising campaign using social media and asking supporters to sign on to a letter of protest to American Apparel’s CEO and corporate relations representatives. The petition can be accessed at http://citizenspeak.org/node/1901

Hardy Girls Healthy Women is a social-change organization working with girls to raise awareness about the impact of negative media messages and stereotypes on girls and women and to engage girls in leadership and activism. www.hghw.org

2 Comments on “Hardy Girls Healthy Women Protest American Apparel’s Best Bottom Contest

  1. I’m sure you could find a better deal for underwear than 3 for $24, but would you honestly rather buy garments made in sweatshops by small children living in poverty, or by adults who are paid well above minimum wage? I hope you can sleep well thinking about that.

  2. Dear Friends and Allies,
    We need your help to end an offensive and damaging new ad campaign aimed at girls and women. American Apparel has launched a contest called The Search for the Best Bottom in the World, and Hardy Girls is leading the effort to get AA to end this campaign immediately. Click through and you’ll see why. American Apparel is asking girls and women to upload pictures of their butts to the company’s website wearing AA intimates, and inviting visitors to comment and vote on the submissions.

    The consequence of marketing practices like this is a generation of girls and women who feel silenced, objectified, and disempowered. We know that these messages are damaging to boys’ views of girls as well, and contribute to an epidemic of violence and harassment towards girls and women. Here are just a few of the trends American Apparel is contributing to:
    • The sexualization of girls and women – according to the 2007 APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls in Media, the negative impact on girls and women is indisputable: the sexualization of girls and women in media wreak havoc on our psychological, emotional, cognitive and relational lives;
    • The direct and unconscionable undermining of girls’ healthy development – by equating confidence with looking sexy, winning with being judged on their appearance, and personal value with 15 seconds of fame;
    • The objectification of girls’ and women’s bodies in mainstream media – in a country where 1 in 4 women is a victim of violence, and sexual harassment is rampant in our schools; and,
    • The placing of girls in jeopardy of prosecution by inviting them to post highly sexualized images of themselves online – at a time when sexting is making headlines.

    I hope you’ll also consider supporting our work. Advocating for girls in a world saturated with unhealthy messages about gender takes resources.
    Consider this: A 3-pack of underwear from American Apparel costs $24.
    We’re willing to bet that not only will you probably find a better deal elsewhere, but you’ll sleep better having purchased your skivvies somewhere else, too. And, if you want to sleep really well…Here’s what Hardy Girls will do with that $24: Encourage girls to see the world of options that exists for them without having to show their underwear.

    Please, consider investing your $24 in girls with a gift to Hardy Girls Healthy Women. We promise we won’t sexualize, objectify, or otherwise demean your sisters, mothers, aunts, nieces, or friends. In fact, we will work toward a better world for all, one where girls are valued more for their beliefs and brains than they are their butts.

    Thank you for your help,

    Megan, Jackie, Allison, Marissa, & Ruya

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