American Apparel is Photoshopping Out Nipples and Pubic Hair to Attract More Millennials


American Apparel is trying to make itself more relevant to millennials by desexualizing their online ads.

The sweatshop-free fashion company is controversial for its “borderline pornographic” product page pictures that depict under-age-looking women in lingerie with visible nipples and pubic hair. This week, the company made a decision to Photoshop the offensive bits out.


The model on the has been airbrushed.

As Animal New York, which broke the news, pointed out, women on the site’s lingerie page are “airbrushed to look like plastic dolls rather than real women.”

In its attempt to remake its brand, American Apparel’s move is actually making more controversy for itself, something the company seems to no longer want to court. Last year, the company raised eyebrows by displaying female mannequins with pubic hair in store windows and pictures of women bending over in skirts on its U.K. website and Instagram account.



Now many in the industry — and feminists who argue for equal rights to be topless in public with the Free the Nipple movement — say that the airbrushing is regressive, bringing shame to how women should should feel about their bodies. They say it’s a step backward for a company that defended its past ads as a form of empowerment for them.

The change to less provocative ads is a way for American Apparel to focus on social issues that its younger customer base might identify with, CEO Paula Schneider told The New York Times.

She added:

“[American Apparel] is an edgy brand and it’s always going to be an edgy brand, and it’s about social commentary, it’s about gay rights, and it’s about immigration reform. It’s about the things millennials care about.”

It’s also an attempt by the beleaguered company to distance itself away from former CEO and founder Dov Charney, who tarnished AA’s image after allegedly sexually harassing several female employees, including one who was underaged. Charney was the force behind featuring young women in sexually-charged poses.

But airbrushing women’s body parts are said to contribute to censorship. According to Michelle Lytle, co-founder of the nipple-printed bikini line TaTa Top, the move is actually taking power away from women. She told Animal New York:

“American Apparel has taken many stances with their ‘legalize gay’ and ‘legalize LA’ shirts. To see them taking a strong stance on those issues but not on women’s equality is disappointing.”

American Apparel has to turn its image around fast if it wants to remain competitive with comparable brands like H&M. It has not turned a profit since 2009 and is expected to lose around $55 million this year, according to The Times. The last thing it needs is this new controversy, especially with a new female leader at the helm.

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