People clogged the sidewalk on Lower Manhattan’s East Houston Street to get a glimpse at a surprising sight from an unsurprising source.
At 3am Thursday morning, American Apparel gave its contemplative batch of lingerie-wearing female mannequins a new look: fully grown out pubic hair.
The move has been embraced by some and chided by others. Media Bistro’s PRNewser mockingly tweeted that the mannequins have “grooming issues,” an attitude that (for those wearing rose colored glasses) might be the reason why American Apparel did it in the first place. Others suggested the mannequin merkin could be a solidarity cry, a public statement that American Apparel stands with the growing movement of pubic hair acceptance. The New York Times’ T Magazine recently ran a piece calling for the “return to a more natural state,” supported by celebrities including Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Either way, it’s in line with the chain’s past messaging. “American Apparel has always been a company that celebrates natural beauty,” the retailer’s visual merchandiser, Dee Myles, told Styleite. Indeed, pubic hair appeared in a somewhat controversial 2011 ad, and can also be found throughout American Apparel’s NSFW website. (Although, as PolicyMic’s Julianne Ross quipped, “Nothing like skinny white plastic dolls to celebrate natural beauty.”)
Of course, because this is American Apparel—a company known for its attention-seeking gimmicks, many of which involve uber-sexualized young women—it’s hard to see this statement, whatever its intentions or conversation it prompts, as anything more than a publicity stunt. And apparently, American Apparel agrees: