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Calvin College students protest the sexy ads of American Apparel

9:30 AM, Apr 21, 2010   |    comments
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  • Some Calvin College students are boycotting American Apparel because of its online advertising.
  • Some students say American Apparel's online ads are "too sexy."
    

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- Some students at Calvin College in Grand Rapids are boycotting a company because of its provocative clothing ads.  The company, called American Apparel, often shows its models in see-through shirts and underwear.

The clothing is sold globally and is targeted at college students and young adults.  Here in Michigan, there are stores in Ann Arbor and East Lansing.  The clothes can also be found
online.  It's those ads that some of the students say are too sexy.

Calvin College students Abbie Belford and Hannah Whyte call it pornography.  Images show topless women, with bare bottoms.  "It's extreme.  It's disgusting," says Hannah.

The ads can be seen on the American Apparel website.  The company has over 200 retails stores and makes all of its clothing in the United States.  The company also promotes fair labor practices.

The socially conscious business practices impressed leaders at Calvin College.  Abbie says students were given American Apparel t-shirts at orientation.  She was told the college purchased them again this year.  "I was like, oh great, another chance to support a good company and then he said, but don't visit their website.  It's almost pornographic," says Abbie.

That's the first time Abbie and Hannah, who are involved in a student-led group called "Democracy Matters," looked at the website.  They are now boycotting the company.  "I want to see the rest of Calvin, all organizations, sign a petition, saying we will not buy from American Apparel until it changes its advertising techniques."

The women have printed up petitions.  They've also created a Facebook page called "American Apparel: The Bare Facts" to protest the company and its ads.  "We want to let them know that no, we are youth, but we do have morals, we have standards.  This just crosses the line," says Hannah.

Calvin College says it already received the new t-shirts, but says it will support the student-led effort and will likely choose another company next year.  The student group plans to hold a petition drive Wednesday on campus.

Here is the complete response from American Apparel:

We appreciate the sincerity of the views expressed by these students. Our advertisements and photographs are occasionally controversial -- we feel that these images are evocative because they feature real people instead of professional models done up with makeup artists or Photoshop. American Apparel's website is filled with photos of friends, employees and fans of the company who volunteered or even collaborated by submitting self-portraits.

Our advertisements are just one part of what we do. American Apparel is the largest garment manufacturer in North America. The same factory where our photo shoots take place produces more than one million Sweatshop Free garments every week. We hope that the students in Grand Rapids who don't appreciate our imagery can still enjoy our basic clothing.

By Sarah Sell

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