I had heard about the American Apparel contest because some people on Twitter had sent me the link and asked if I would be entering the contest. No way was I entering it, and I had not really invested any thought to the contest because I already knew first hand how AA feels about plus sized consumers. I knew that a year ago. Honestly, my only thought was “Wow, this is a year late!” I also didn’t like the title “The Next BIG Thing” with the word “big” in all caps and the word “thing” used to describe a woman.
Then I saw Nancy Upton’s pictures. I thought they were brilliant because with the use of her body and food she made a satirical statement on the contest and the company behind it. I loved that her pictures mocked the sentiment that fat people eat (even slather ourselves in) unhealthy food all the time. I do not believe she was insulting the other serious contestants at all. On her blog, she encouraged votes for other women who really wanted to win the contest several times.
I think it is actually funny and very telling that Nancy won the contest. AA should see that the plus sized community is a serious community and could have used this, or perhaps even the backlash that my experience caused last year, as reasons to really try to understand the potential of treating plus sized women with respect, and how that could go a long way in helping their struggling company. The addition of more sizes could have been done in a much more considerate, responsible way.
As far as the mention of my experience in the open letter from American Apparel creative director Iris Alonzo, I think it is a year and 4 months too late to acknowledge what happened to me. I am surprised that they were even aware of my situation, because I was never responded to or contacted by anyone from American Apparel last year. I also highly doubt that they “don’t recall the name of the confused employee credited with saying that” because I was at their Downtown LA headquarters meeting with their showroom rep specifically to work on my plus sized clothing line. This woman (whose name I DO remember – Maggie P.) was well aware that I was meeting with her to find pieces for my plus sized clothing line. Her disinterested attitude during the entire meeting makes it hard to believe that she “was sadly uninformed.” And during our meeting, the only piece of clothing I was shown that went up to a size 3XL was a Men’s t-shirt. That was an article of clothing that was hardly inspiring or appropriate for the sexy, flattering clothing I to hope to create for plus sized women.
I applaud Nancy and think it is great that she made such a huge statement with her opinions and pictures and continuing an important dialogue!
**Special thanks to my friend Lillian Behrendt!**