Full Frontal Exposure
by Sarah Malmgren
Forget the razor. Skip the wax. There’s a new trend in town that goes against the hair-free sensation of recent years. At least, that’s the idea one sportswear retailer is promoting. In typical controversial fashion, American Apparel has unveiled its latest window display. Taking its approach to scantily clad mannequins just a bit further, their most recent display at the East Houston Street location is creating a stir. The lack of clothing isn’t what’s gaining all the attention this time, though; it’s the lack of grooming that everyone’s talking about Donning sheer white panties, bras and teddies, the three featured mannequins reveal full-fledged, unkempt pubic hair. While usually a subject kept taboo, the blatant exposure of a very private area is attracting crowds, analysis and, of course, criticism. After all, the consensus tends to be that American Apparel marketing is not merely praise of the human body like the company’s executives insist it is. Rather, it seems to be controversial for the sake of gaining attention.
According to a company representative, the displays are intended to be a Valentine’s Day celebration of the “natural” female form. “We created it to invite passersby to explore the idea of what is ‘sexy’ and consider their comfort with the natural female form,” explained the representative. “This is the same idea behind our advertisements which avoid many of the Photoshopped and airbrushed standards of the fashion industry.” Indeed, over the past few decades, the ideal arose that women should aim to recreate the smooth, hairless bodies of porn stars and bikini supermodels. Ignoring the function of pubic hair as a barrier from the elements, a large percentage of women have flocked to beauty salons and spas seeking the Brazilian wax to “take it all off.” While some see this bold move as a publicity stunt, others applaud American Apparel’s step in the direction of natural femininity. Females are becoming increasingly vocal about keeping their lower
regions untouched. Everyday women, bloggers and celebrities alike, are declaring their preference towards the look of years past when the very task of shaving “down there” wasn’t a thought at all. Throughout history, pubic hair has often been a sign of a woman’s good health and sexuality. Its presence has served as an indication that a girl has become a woman, and that alone would make it inherently sexy. In 2014 though, the notion of an unshaved woman is frequently perceived as outright unattractive. Is the image of what makes a woman “sexy” changing? Is the natural look coming back? Possibly. But for now, it’s probably safe to say that the window display in question was created in the hopes of raising a few eyebrows. Raise eyebrows it did; people started talking and now another American Apparel advertising scandal goes down in history.