You know what's creepy? American Apparel's kids' line

Posted at 12:15 PM Jun 22, 2009

By Andrea Grimes


If you like looking at pictures of young women in nothing-left-to-the-imagination leggings, American Apparel has probably always had your go-to visuals. But don't look too hard at the new American Apparel kids' line, or if you're like me, you'll feel vaguely creepy. Instead of young women, it's barely pubescent girls--but hey, those skin-tight leggings are still there, along with vacant expressions that say,  vaguely, "Have you seen this child?"

No, I'm not saying it's kiddie porn. But the kids' ads are shot in the same starkly-lit style as those for AA's adult clothing. And you'd be hard pressed to find an adult AA ad that isn't pretty explicitly adult. Help me out here, maybe, if I'm the only one: is anyone else totally creeped out by the visuals for the American Apparel kids' line?

Here's the problem: on a 25-year-old woman, shiny lamé pants are intentionally provocative and sexual, at least as portrayed in the AA catalog. So am I crazy for thinking that a photo of a little girl in the same gear is, well, a little bit freaky?


I don't find it quite as tacky as, say, thongs for elementary schoolers or "Juicy" pants on a 5th grader, but there's something going on here in the same realm. I feel like American Apparel has made a concentrated effort to incorporate sex and sexuality as part of their advertising--much to the chagrin of many fashion-forward feminists who like the gear but hate the message, this feminist included.

I wish they'd changed their visual M.O. for the kids' line.


Anna said:

Agreed. And that little girl in the gold is too young to be such a sassypants model-wannabe. *Shudder*

Lady G. said:

Does anyone actually wear this stuff? I mean outside of dance class? It's ridiculous. The adults look like they're headed to Jazzercise. The kids look worse...but no worse then I did when my mom took me to dance recitals as a kid/teen.

Orange Juice said:

I may be alone here, but I don't see sex at all in those pictures. I just see kids dressing up.

I'm a mother, and to me, they just look like ordinary kids. They just look like the same pudgy little kids you'd see running around in swim suits at the pool, showing off a lot more naked skin. Not sexy in the slightest.

I realise that AA has made its mark on the world by creating a hyper-sexual image for itself, but hey, it's a business, and they've got to make money somehow. And the truth is: sex sells. Many people like to feel that they're wearing sexy clothes. I don't really care what I wear as long as it's comfy, but who am I to judge?

AA has just opened up in Australia (where I live), and when I look at the half-naked models on its online store, they give me the giggles. I'd be so embarrassed to dress like that!

I like AA clothes, and I buy them for my kids too. They're very soft, and it's hard to find very thin t-shirts for summer in so many colors. And it's also hard to find shirts without writing and logos all over them. I often buy at AA.

Of course there are many people who look at young girls and see something sexy there, but so what? As long as they keep their fantasies in their own heads, I couldn't care less what they think about. Human sexuality is a weird, weird thing. But, these same people will look at a child in baggy, shapeless clothes and see something sexy too. For them, it's not the clothes.

I actually think that AA has made an effort to NOT sexualize their child models. On their website, the kids are pretty ordinary looking. They're not super-skinny. They're not half naked. They just look like they're having fun.

People who see sexiness in kids will see it anywhere. Society has gone crazy, where we can't put up a single picture of a child because all pictures of children are assumed to have innate sexual allure. It's stupid, and it hurts children more than having them model some brightly colored leggings.

As long as the ordinary person assumes that we can't have child models because children are just simply too alluring, then children will pick up on this. I think that without realising it, feminists are turning the child into an extreme sex object by focusing on its supposed sexuality in every picture they see. They're training society to look for sex everything we look at a child picture, and that's harmful.

Honestly, I don't see sex in these pictures, and it is the height of arrogance to assume that everybody does. It's just plain silly to think that we need to analyze every picture of a kid we see in attempt to find some hint of sexuality in it. Sexuality is very fluid, and it we keep talking about kids and sex, then we're just going to train ourselves to see kids as naturally sexy.

I can live with the fact that some people have sex fantasies about kids in their heads (most of whom keep it to themselves and are harmless), but I can't live with the fact that ordinary people (and feminists who claim to love children) can't look at a picture of a child without seeing something provocative.

What kind of mothers will these feminist women make? If they keep telling their young girls to cover up because their bodies are so alluring to lots of people, then those young girls will grow up thinking about nothing but how their bodies look to other people. Not a good way to grow up. Instead, they should let their kids dress however they want (because kids like to copy adults, and kids need to express themselves, not be afraid to), and if some adult looks at that child and sees something sexy, it's their fault, not the parent's or the child's.

AA is not creating anything sexy with these pictures, and if they are creating something, it's only because it was already there. Advertising doesn't work unless the people viewing it already feel something to begin with.

mo said:

Orange Juice.....amen.

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