Known for its controversy, American Apparel has now translated it's outside-the-lines thinking into some extremely unkempt bikini line on its mannequins.
The company has displayed mannequins in one of its Lower East Side stores, New York, with a full bush of pubic hair.
So what are we meant to make of it all? Arguments suggesting that the mannequins celebrate natural beauty cannot be entirely dismissed. On speaking to the Huffington Post, the store said the mannequins are meant to convey the "realness and rawness of sexuality".
However, despite what could be seen as a celebration of natural beauty, it is difficult to forget American Apparel's own history of extremely sexualised advertising. Between 2012 and 2013 the company were in hot water with the UK's Advertising Standards Authority at least three times for their overtly sexual ads, so many were there in fact that Buzzfeed has made a compilation of the company's raciest ads.
It is also difficult to forget that the mannequins themselves, pubic hair or no pubic hair, remain teeny-tiny, and accessorized accordingly with perfect hair and perfect make-up, in what could be seen a adhering to the Western ideals of women. It is difficult to see how this represent a 'realness' of sexuality, at least, one that the majority of women can adhere to.
An obvious way of looking at American Apparel's latest 'work' is to see it as a sensationalist publicity stunt. Indeed, the 'public hair' on these models resembles more a wig bought in a joke shop than the 'real' and 'raw' pubic hair of a woman, and I have to say it looks like a joke to me. What I see in this is not American Apparel celebrating the realness and rawness of women, but using something that is already sensationalised, having pubic hair, to make a statement and draw attention to the brand.
The reality is that American Apparel sticking pubic hair on its mannequins probably won't increase lingerie sales, but will it give them publicity? Get people talking? Of course it will, it already has, as this post proves. People want to talk about this, out of shock, out of amusement, whatever the reason, emotion is evoked.
So the question is, is our attitude wrong? Should we all be more natural 'down-there'? And if so, would American Apparel have been able to make a mockery out of it? Personally, I love my body just the way it is, but, I do I go the gym, I eat well, I wear make-up and I wax. I don't do this be acceptable, I do it for me.
The problem I have with American Apparel's statement is not what it is, but the fact that it is part of a history of advertising which unnecessarily sexualised for a company which is selling essentially... clothes. Is it really necessary to sell tights by placing a woman in a compromising position on a bed?
The unfortunate reality is, whatever American Apparel and other fashion brands has done, is doing, and will do with their mannequins, it will always be seen as a statement for something. The same applies for women: wax or shave, and you could be accused of conforming to Western ideals, dare to have hair, and you could be seen as only being directly opposed to that notion. It's a damned if you, damned if you don't situation, for mannequins and women alike.