Mocking model wins popular vote but doesn't win over American Apparel

Friday, September 23, 2011

Nancy Upton was one of about a thousand women who entered American Apparel's newest contest, but she was probably the ONLY one who entered hoping not to win. 


AA is no stranger to controversy but this time they've opened up a whole new can of worms. The company created a photo contest trying to find "The Next BIG Thing"(which it was conveniently titled) to show off their new "extended sizes." It was geared toward finding a plus-size model, size 12-14, based on votes from visitors. 

Here is part of the description from the contest:
"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."

Upton, was annoyed by the campaign's tone, feeling as though she was being talked down to for her size. "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," Upton said. So she did something about it. Upton recruited a photographer friend, Shannon Skloss to take photos protesting the new contest. The size 12, 24-year-old, uploaded her photos, never expecting to win, just hoping to create awareness. 

She took the pictures to mock the contest and she shares how she would never model for American Apparel on her blog Extra Wiggle Room, dedicated to her journey with AA and aftermath
'I most certainly would not model for American Apparel, because (pretty obviously) I don’t agree with their business practices. I also would not expect to be asked to do so, even if I receive a majority of the votes (something I never planned on).'
She goes on to write how she disagrees with the message AA is sending but she respects others opinions.  

Here is Upton's description of the blog:

"MY NAME IS NANCY UPTON. I'M A SIZE 12 AND WANTED TO SHOW AMERICAN APPAREL MY FRESH FACE (AND FULL FIGURE). MY GOOD FRIEND SHANNON SKLOSS CAME OVER TO TAKE SOME "BOOTY-FUL" PHOTOS OF ME...BUT I JUST COULDN'T STOP EATING. 

I CAME IN FIRST PLACE IN THE AA 'NEXT BIG THING' CONTEST, BUT WON'T BE MODELING FOR THE COMPANY ANY TIME SOON."

As the company learned of Upton's antics and her angle on the contest, AA's Iris Alonzo fired back. (Here is a a few pieces of the 7 paragraph letter to show the response)

"It’s a shame that your project attempts to discredit the positive intentions of our challenge based on your personal distaste for our use of light-hearted language, and that “bootylicous” was too much for you to handle. While we may be a bit TOO inspired by Beyonc√©, and do have a tendency to occasionally go pun-crazy, we try not to take ourselves too seriously around here. I wonder if you had taken just a moment to imagine that this campaign could actually be well intentioned, and that my team and I are not out to offend and insult women, would you have still behaved in the same way, mocking the confident and excited participants who put themselves out there? " 

"Oh - and regarding winning the contest, while you were clearly the popular choice, we have decided to award the prizes to other contestants that we feel truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out, and whom we will be proud to have representing our company."

Trying to take a stand against the contest, Upton's dream became a reality. She has now caused an international discussion, bringing the problem of plus-sized women and the media to a forefront.

Upton has been featured in many publications and news stations including: 
Fashionista
The Frisky
Yahoo News UK and Ireland
AOL UK
The Independent
CNN
ABC
and the list goes on....
While many people are siding with her, there are those who just don't agree and that is why this controversy has become such a heated debate. 

"I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do on a greater scale than I realized I was doing,” Upton said. “I've provoked discussion and promoted awareness about the depiction of plus-size women in the media."






















With all the media buzz and controversy that has stirred up, Upton and AA have reached an agreement to fly her and photographer friend Skloss to American Apparel in L.A. They will be able to see what the company is like and she is allowed to write about whatever she sees.

Check her blog for future updates.


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