American Apparel’s ‘The Next Big Thing’ competition has garnered a lot of press attention – but perhaps not as the company originally intended.
Nancy Upton – who appears lightyears ahead of her fellow contestants and looks to be a sure-fire win of the (now closed) competition – never intended to go this far and never intends to model for the brand, declaring in an article for The Daily Beast today: ‘I want nothing to do with a company that’s wanted nothing to do with large women until now’.
Nancy, who reminds us on her blog http://extrawiggleroom.tumblr.com of past reports of American Apparel’s attitude to the plus-sized market and body image, supposedly the very thing that spurred her entry to AA’s ‘XLent’ competition.
American Apparel attracted entries from just under a thousand plus-sized wannabe models, declaring:
‘We’re looking for fresh faces (and curvaceous bods) to fill these babies out. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next XLent model, send us photos of you and your junk to back it up.’
Nancy, however, found this approach insulting, kicking back in an interview with The Daily Beast today:
“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.”
In response to the competition, she uploaded professional looking photos of herself scantily-clad in humorous poses – all of them involving her eating excessively.
Proving a point?
Nancy seems to be pointing out one obvious flaw in American Apparel’s competition – the exclusion of one body type – the satyrising of the larger girl and the connotations that come along with that. Nancy shows that a picture says a thousand words and her statement has been heard on a viral scale.
Upton stated in her blog:
“I don’t just consider them to be beautiful, talented and professional for, you know, plus-sized women. I consider them to be beautiful, talented and professional PEOPLE. Size and beauty are not mutually exclusive.”
I don’t believe that beauty should be qualified as BECAUSE of someone’s size or IN SPITE of someone’s size. Beauty is beauty, it’s fluid, it’s objective and it doesn’t need to be justified to or by anyone.”
Nancy insists that her entry was a spoof of the competition itself and never intended to upset any of her fellow entrants. She asserts:
I believe the women who entered the American Apparel “contest” are beautiful, brave people, and my attempt here to respond to the company’s course of action is JUST that- it is in no way a comment or critique of the women who have submitted photos.
What do you make of Nancy’s brave statement? An unfair mockery of a well-intended competition or something which needed to be said and a controversy that needed to be addressed?
Image credits: Nancy Upton @ http://extrawiggleroom.tumblr.com/ and American Apparel