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Was “The Next Big Thing” Really that Serious?

Am I actually taking American Apparel’s side on something? This feels dirty.

This was totally off my radar, but American Apparel ran a contest called “The Next Big Thing”, looking for a plus (12-14, I guess) sized model to launch their new extended sizes. (Side note: So what size were all these heffalumps shopping at AA wearing before? I can’t right now…)

Nancy Upton, a Dallas-based blogger took offense to American Apparel’s ad, which used cringe-worthy words terms “bootyful” and “extra wiggle room”. As a spoof, she did a stylish photoshoot eating turkeys and pies and bathing in Ranch dressing and submitted them to the content. Surprisingly, she won the most votes, but AA is having the last laugh by calling her out on basically mocking the whole contest and is picking someone else as the winner.

Normally, I too take offense with everything that American Apparel does. They take self-hate to new levels with their fashions that scream “I didn’t eat for a week to fit into these clothes”. But, I’m willing to look at this whole “The Next Big Thing” from their point of view and see that they are actually trying to market to the big girls, and not just mock them. Of course, I hate terms like “bootylicious” too, but they also used “curvaceous”, which I approve of. More telling, though, was the sentence, “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.” I’m not sure how Dalton could take offense after reading this corny attempt at marketing. American Apparel is so off-base with this sentence that you can’t help but feel bad for them, for the team of Sidekick-donning teenagers from Iowa that must have written this campaign. They weren’t trying to be offensive – they’re obviously too dense for that.

As a big girl, I found Dalton’s photoshoot unnecessary and a bit gross. I’m always ready to pick up the torch and join an angry mob against campaigns that deal with pushing poor self-image on girls, but I really think that American Apparel was trying to find a cute plus-sized girl to model their ugly clothes. Nothing more.

I doubt that Dalton’s stunt will register on the radar for long. She’s just another hyper-sensitive snowflake in the cacophonous blizzard of unfocused sound and fury.



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September 2011
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