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Nancy Upton's American Apparel Saga

So... I hadn't posted anything about this story up until now because Jezebel has been covering it in detail and it's been discussed by other Fatophere bloggers. Also, American Apparel's new women's XL and Nancy Upton are not plus-sized by U.S. clothing standards. But the pictures really are outstanding and funny, and it's turned into quite the saga.

I think it's time someone put together a recap with lots of links. Here it is.

It all began when American Apparel, a failing company run by a rampaging perv, decided to finally cave in and start making clothes in a women's size XL. That's a US 12-14, folks. But they couldn't do it in a respectful way. Oh no! They had to have a modeling contest full of "fun" digs at these truly humongous, no doubt totally corpulant new customers!

This is where Jezebel picked up the story: American Apparel Introduces Size XL, Holds Search For ‘Booty-Ful’ Models.

It's a good thing that we have that Jezebel article, because all evidence of that contest is now gone from the American Apparel website. We don't get to share in all the brilliant and original fat jokes. ~sob~

ANYWAY (with links to Jezebel) ...

  1. Nancy Upton entered the contest with some truly outstanding and hilarious photos of herself eating (wearing, bathing in) "bad" food and looking very glam. These photos were meant to mock American Apparel and the offensively-marketed modeling contest.
  2. Due to the high quality and extreme coolness and hilariousness of her photos, Nancy won the modeling contest by popular vote. However, American Apparel refused to acknowledge her victory, and insulted her in the process.
  3. After being mocked and criticized in the media and online, American Apparel tried to cut its losses and invited Nancy to visit them in LA.
  4. Nancy accepted the invitation.

The invitation appears to have been a bit of a red herring. Nancy is reporting on it on her personal blog.

One of Nancy's favorite performers, Amanda Palmer (herself responsible for some rockin' rebellyion) is following the story and has posted a Today interview with Nancy along with glowing praise on her blog.

Nancy has published an article about her contest entry on the Daily Beast, My Big, Fat Photo Spoof:

So after I first heard about the “contest,” I couldn’t help but get it out of my mind. (I write “contest” in quotes because the legal mumbo jumbo in the waiver states that American Apparel reserves the right to choose any or none of the applicants for any or none of the prizes.)

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.

A relatable, sassy friend who was looking to broaden its customer base after warning it might need to declare bankruptcy earlier this year. And a relatable, sassy friend who wanted as much free press as possible. That’s when I finally put my finger on why I couldn’t get this “contest” out of my head: American Apparel was going to try to use one fat girl as a symbol of apology and acceptance to a demographic it had long insisted on ignoring, while simultaneously having that girl (and a thousand other girls) shill their products.

Great stuff, and there's a lot more if you follow the link. Don't overlook the second page.

American Apparel is being mocked all over the web and even the conventional media, and Nancy has drawn attention to the condescending and prejudicial way non-skinny women are treated in our society. Now that is some effective activism!

BEDA is on board with HAES | Love Your Body Day is October 19

BigLiberty's picture
September 28th, 2011 | Link | Yeah, Nancy Upton is

Yeah, Nancy Upton is definitely my fatty folk-hero of the year. Thanks for posting this round-up, there are a lot of great links here that I haven't had a chance to explore, yet.

diane September 28th, 2011 | Link | I can't really muster up

I can't really muster up that much sympathy for someone openly supporting a company whose founder sexually abuses and violates its women employees. (Calling him a "rampaging pev" is a massive understatement and I wonder why the sugar coating of what he is?). Also the entire website is a misogynists/peados/rapists wet dream with the "underage" pornography it touts under the guise of modeling and advertising.

And then she say's: "How offensive the campaign was...", are you fucking kidding me!??!! How about how offensive the whole fucking Company is. This is what Rape Culture looks like and she wants to be a part of it. No..not a hero in my book, just another apologist. But that's just my opinion.

DeeLeigh's picture
September 29th, 2011 | Link | She's not supporting

She's not supporting American Apparel. That's the whole point. Her entry in the contest was a joke and a form of social commentary, and it was done very consciously.

If it wasn't clear from my post, I apologize. I guess I was writing it with the assumption that everyone had already heard at least the first part of the story before, and now I realize that isn't necessarily the case. I added a sentence to clarify that aspect of it. Thanks for the heads-up.

diane September 29th, 2011 | Link | Thank you for the

Thank you for the clarification DeeLeigh. The posting here of the story was the first that I heard of it, so good to know it's supposed to be some kind of social commentary against American Apparel.

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