Nancy Upton received the highest number of public votes in American Apparel's "The Next Big Thing" plus-size modeling contest. Sadly, the student and blogger from Texas was told that she won't be the face of their new plus-sized line.
What's truly unfortunate, however, is that in a country where the average woman is a size 14 (and sizes vary widely from company to company anyway), American Apparel's new "plus-sized" line is targeted to the size 12-14 demographic. In other words, the average size of an American woman is what AA defines as "plus-sized."
Though much can be said about the expansion of American waistlines, it is important to remember that the great blonde bombshell herself was extremely curvaceous, if not actually a size 14 (Jezebel wrote a great article about Marilyn Monroe's size and figure). Yes, many Americans are overweight, some drastically so. But that doesn't make it ok for companies like American Apparel to play off of insecurities, or seemingly mock those who don't look like traditional AA models. Upton wrote in The Daily Beast
The puns, the insulting, giggly tones, and the over-used euphemisms for fat that were scattered throughout the campaign’s solicitation began to crystalize an opinion in my mind. How offensive the campaign was. How it spoke to plus-sized women like they were starry-eyed 16 year olds from Kansas whose dream, obviously, was to hop a bus to L.A. to make it big in fashion. How apparently there were no words in existence to accurately describe the way American Apparel felt about a sexy, large woman, and so phrases like “booty-ful” and “XLent” would need to be invented for us—not only to fill this void in American vocabulary, but also make the company seem like a relatable, sassy friend to fat chicks.
American Apparel has some positive things going for it: they pay their workers well and offer affordable family health care. But their ad campaigns have always been sleazy, for lack of a better word, and a lot of controversy (to say the least) surrounds founder Dov Charney. This campaign is no different. So Nancy Upton enlisted the aid of her photographer friend Shannon Skloss, and submitted a series of photos mocking the campaign. Surprisingly, her entry was accepted (entries were moderated before being posted) and she won the popularity contest, but a clause in the competition gave AA the right to use a different entrant, or even none of the entrants. So sadly, we'll not be seeing Nancy Upton modeling for American Apparel any time soon.
Girl Museum Inc.