Time and time again we see retailers resorting to shock tactics in the bid for our attention - and controversial brand American Apparel is perhaps one of the worst offenders.
The clothing company's ads have been banned in the past for their "sexual and objectifying" portrayals of women - but rather than learn their lesson, the company has decided to cash in on the 'naughty school girl' look.
According to reports, American Apparel recently released a 'Back to School'-style lookbook (the brand call it 'School Days') featuring young women posing in different school settings.
Images in the collection show models dressed in cheerleader-style short skirts and crop tops. Two garments are even named "the Lolita skirt" and "the Lolita top", a nod no doubt to the sexualised schoolgirl in Vladimir Nabokov's infamous novel 'Lolita'.
So far, so disturbing.
But then one image was reportedly posted to the company's UK Instagram account, showing a model bending over a red car in a short green tartan school-style skirt with her bare legs and knickers on show.
The image no longer appears on American Apparel's official accounts - and so cannot be verified - but that hasn't stopped it being circulated on social media.
But one Twitter user named Emilie Lawrence claims to have captured the moment and has circulated it on social media.
American Apparel - their 'back to school' skirts fuelling Lolita fantasies and rampant sexism a plenty 😒 pic.twitter.com/CzmY6KSXDz
— Em (@anygirlfriday) August 6, 2014
The "sexist" image has been labelled as "underage porn" by some and "dangerous misogyny" by others. The general consensus seems to be that this time, American Apparel has well and truly over-stepped the mark.
@Amanda_Vickery have you seen American Apparel's advertising for their back to school range? It's genuinely horrifying: dangerous misogyny
— ms t (@reading_woman) August 7, 2014
So I'm used to feeling uneasy about American Apparel's advertising, but the latest example doing the rounds is just beyond gross.
— Deborah Evanson (@DeborahEvanson) August 7, 2014
i am rly not ok with american apparel's consistent misogyny, fked up ethics, sexual harassment & now underage porn http://t.co/zQEja57jem
— ghostie baby (@kaitmordey) August 7, 2014
— rebecca pearson (@rebeccapearson) August 7, 2014
Just seen American Apparel's advertising for their "Back To School" range. Their ads honestly get worse and worse!
— Penny (@lilliesandlove) August 7, 2014
While this image may have been removed, the 'School Days' lookbook remains on the site. The retailer tells students: "Your first assignment is to dress accordingly" - yep, sounds dead creepy to us too.
Speaking to i100, whistleblower Emilie Lawrence: “The way in which American Apparel objectify and sexualise female bodies is damaging and rooted in patriarchal notions about a woman’s worth.
“Adverts like this reduce women down to little more than body parts to be claimed, and reinforce idea that our primary purpose is to be appealing to men.”
American Apparel, sexualising young women is not going to make us buy your clothes. It's time to stop now, OK?
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