An Open Letter to American Apparel, RE: the next BIG model search fiasco
By Leyna Rynearson
Dear American Apparel,
This must have been a hard week for your ego.
Being the subject of an international discussion about the “right” way to expand your empire
to include the expansive,
let’s just say, I bet Alexander the Great
has some stories about elephants
that ruined his good name, too.
How were you to know that
we women of substance -
meaning, in your lexicon,
we women who wear anything over a size six -
are filled with brains in here,
are filled with feelings
and mirror-retinas that reflect through your search for
the next BIG thing.
Why does big matter in my beautiful?
Why do I have to be a thing to matter?
American Apparel -
I do not find offense in puns,
but the implication in your search for someone who’s
is that my booty
detracts from my ability
to be just
I am comfortable with my bulges,
But I was there when April Flores asked
showroom representative Maggie
about the possibility of a plus-size line and was told,
"That’s not our demographic."
I am not your demographic.
Your demographic is strung out
and desperately trying to fill the caves in their torsos
On the other hand,
I work 40 paid hours a week making sure the world stays intact,
I bake birthday cakes,
I teach kids to read,
I volunteer for anyone who asks,
I clean up trash in the park,
I hand out hugs like napkins
(generously, and to help people pick up their spills-)
I do dishes,
I feed kitties,
I carry groceries,
and the girth of my hips
is as big as my smile
and has learned how to
hold doors open for those
who look like they could use a break.
I teach girls to fight for what they want
and I teach the men in my life
that maybe they don’t have to fight.
And I do this under the scorn
of the people who wear your clothing.
I know the distinct cut and kelly green
of the guy who MOOed at me from a car
as I ran down my street towards the track,
and I’m sorry to say,
maybe your problem with models
started further back than two weeks.
Or maybe, you,
like so many of your peers,
just don’t realize
you’ve expanded your line to a ladies size 14,
and this doesn’t make you “plus-size” friendly-
you are only finally clothing
the AVERAGE AMERICAN WOMAN.
In case you don’t know her,
let me introduce you to the modern lady liberty:
The average American woman
makes less than 30 grand a year,
masturbates at least twice a week - at least! -
has a crush on George Cloony, Johnny Depp, or that guy from Mad Men,
believes in gay marriage and my right to choose what happens in my nuclear reactors,
and doesn’t believe in prayer to save us now.
And while we can say
that we love the size of our breasts
and that we are comfortable naked,
even with the lights on-
on any given day in the United States,
approximately half of the women are on a diet.
Do you want to know why I’m mad,
Because my friend’s 9 year old daughter told me last week
that she’s happier with herself when she’s on a diet.
And I can’t help but feel like maybe
your request to find the next XLent model
might not be helping the situation.
But the worst
is how you accused the winner
of not showing her inner beauty, too -
Which is strange,
because the last I checked,
standing up to corporations
who tell women like me-
strong, smart, beautiful women who have spent their whole lives letting their self-loathing fill them further-
that we are meaningless and unwanted except as novelty
is the most beautiful and noble thing I can think of.
I can only imagine
you afraid of a world
in which you must be strong for yourself,
instead of weak for others.
Dear Iris Alonzo,
Dear American Apparel,
Dear fashion designing community,
I’m sorry you are afraid of my size…
in the end,
it does not end up crushing you,
just bending you to your knees.
Incredible, incredible stuff. Big thanks to her for letting me share it. And many thanks as well to all of you who have sent me emails of love and support. I’ve tried to respond to each one, but I’m about 100-150 behind at this point. Please know that I DO read them. And love them. And many, many thanks to people who have reached out to interview me, talk about AmApp on podcasts, write about this situation, etc. I’m very happy that we’re all in this together (people still like High School Musical, right? That’s a thing? I slept through the second one) and, at the very least, that waves have been made.