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Subverting American Apparel: an interview with the amazing Nancy Upton


 
You might have seen the name Nancy Upton trending online in the last few days. After taking offence at the language in a recent talent-hunt campaign by American Apparel (a company whose image is already a source of much controversy, and who are looking for a plus-size model to advertise their new range), Nancy decided to do some satirical beauty shots of herself sexily consuming food and enter them into the contest. Well, the photos came out very well and have proved wildly popular with the public, who have voted Nancy into first place in the competition (even though she has stated that she would not accept the prize if the judges chose her to win). 

All in all this is a pretty awesome story, which touches on female sexual empowerment, body image, sexist corporate branding and the acceptability of sizeism within the mainstream. I sent Nancy some brief questions for Dangerous Minds, and she was kind enough to answer them in some detail:

How did you feel about American Apparel before their “plus size” competition? What was it about this particular campaign that made you want to enter?

I feel like they’ve always gone above and beyond other companies in objectifying women. Basically it was the fact that they were trying to take advantage of a new market but make it seem like they were doing people a favor. I answered this a bit with my Daily Beast article.

“The company was co-opting the mantra of plus-size empowerment and glazing it with its unmistakable brand of female objectification. The puns, the insulting, giggly tones, and the over-used euphemisms for fat that were scattered throughout the campaign’s solicitation began to crystalize an opinion in my mind.
...
American Apparel was going to try to use one fat girl as a symbol of apology and acceptance to a demographic it had long insisted on ignoring, while simultaneously having that girl (and a thousand other girls) shill their products.”

 

 

What’s your reaction to being voted no. 1 by the public?

Complete and utter shock. I never expected to actually be accepted into the contest, and I certainly never expected for people (other than friends who knew what I was doing and why I was doing it) to want me to win.

You’ve taken a bit of flack for supposedly insulting large women with the pics - how do you respond to that?

It’s actually very upsetting for me to hear from women that they feel insulted by what I did. I feel like, being a plus-sized woman myself, it should be very apparent that the photos are done to mock people who are the ones judging overweight men and women. Also, that they were done in the spirit of silly shenanigans and having fun being yourself. I feel like watching a plus-sized model get brutally airbrushed or only shot from one specific, slimming angle for an ad campaign is way more insulting. It’s interesting that by insulting a company that has a history of negativity towards women, I’ve managed to insult the same women the company marginalizes.

You have already said that if you do win you wouldn’t accept the prize - but wouldn’t it be better if you did?

Would it be better? I’m not sure. I wouldn’t appear for American Apparel because I disagree with their business practices, specifically their system of advertising. I feel like putting your face on a product or brand you can’t actually get behind is pretty gross. I’m also not sure it would send a great message. I feel like I’ve had an opportunity to make a statement about standing up (or at least satirizing) for what you believe in, and if I turned around and accepted a job from AA, that statement would be negated to a degree.
 

 
Do you have any favourite other models in the comp you think should win?

I’m not going to play favorites, but I definitely think the person chosen should ACTUALLY be unknown, especially since there’s no monetary compensation. Some of the women in the competition not only had modeling experience, but are actually signed with agencies. I’ve always been under the impression that once you have representation, you should avoid contests and stunts like this. But what the hell do I know about the world of modeling?

What do you think as to how large people are treated in mainstream culture and fashion in general, and is there anything anyone can do to affect this?

I feel like it’s a dialogue/presence that is always in a flux between shrinking and expanding. For every “fat best friend” throw away character on television, we get one who is brilliantly written and portrayed. Increasingly we see different shapes and looks being incorporated into major ad campaigns and runway work. Are large people treated well across the board? No. Has their level of representation and respect grown from where it was 10 years ago? Yes.

I think people are becoming more and more outspoken about the role of the plus-sized model in fashion, as well as in other aspects of entertainment and art. If we continue to keep those lines of communication open and express our desires directly and dynamically, change will happen.
 

 
Are there any designers/labels/outlets you think DO respect plus size people?

I think some designers have cuts that are more generous or have become more generous as time has gone on. Diane Von Furstenberg, for example. I believe they go up to a 14 now, as does Kate Spade, which is interesting considering their clothing line isn’t even the company’s main selling point.

I’m a big fan of the Dove campaigns. They’re very natural and don’t feel patronizing or cheap. They’re honest, simple and encourage individuality. The Gentlewoman had a great article on Adele earlier this year, and I’m a big fan of the way they profile strong, interesting women in their magazine. Target has a great selection of sizes and, I swear, every time I walk in there, the clothes are better and better.

And finally the photographs are beautiful - can you tell us more about the photographer?

Shannon Skloss, the magnificent. She has a website that will be launching soon, but for now you can find her business page on Facebook. She’s incredibly funny, vibrant and talented. We had so much fun on the shoot, and her work is just outstanding. We were introduced through a mutual friend when I needed some headshots done a few months ago, and I’m so glad it worked out that way.

Voting has now closed on the American Apparel “Next Big Thing” campaign, though we await with interest any kind of statement from the company. Shannon Skloss’ Facebook photography page is here.

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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My 1970s Tumblr
09.09.2011
03:38 pm

Topics:
Fashion
History
Media
Movies
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Tumblr
1970s

image
 
My 1970s Tumblr supplies “inspiration drops from 1970s aesthetics and lifestyle.” A fine reminder to that decade’s rich diversity of music, film, politics, fashion, and some rather dodgy advertising.

See more here.
 
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Previously on Dangerous Minds

The Vintage Lesbian Tumblr


 
More pix from the fab seventies, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Jim Hendrix on French pop TV show ‘Dim Dam Dom’


 
The folks at Mod Cinema just keep the goods rolling out, don’t they? It’s hard to stay up with the embarrassment of riches on offer from them. Take for instance their recent duo of double DVD sets featuring unedited episodes of Dim Dam Dom, the distinctive, ultra-hip, fashion-forward late sixties French pop TV series. Dim Dam Dom had a very French “mod” sensibility, giving it a vastly different look and feel to British programs like Colour Me Pop or Top of the Pops and American counterparts like Shindig! and Hullabaloo.

Dim Dam Dom was a music variety hour produced for the Deuxième channel in France. The title summarizes this shows concept, “Dim” for Sunday, “Dam” for ladies, and “Dom” for men. Pioneering the creativity of the show was Daisy Galard. From the elaborate dance choreography, to the set design, to the production and staging, Dim Dam Dom serves as a colorful time capsule of pop music in 1968.

Included in Mod Cinema’s two 2-disc Dim Dam Dom sets are several complete unedited episodes (most in color, a few in black & white) with rare performances by Johnny Hallyday, Mireille Darc, Grapefruit, Marie Laforêt, Nino Ferrer, Eddy Mitchell, Stone, Memphis Slim, Ronnie Bird, Françoise Hardy, Procol Harum, The Electric Prunes, Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & the Trinity, Sylvie Vartan, Jacques Dutronc, Pussy Cat, The Moody Blues, P.P.Arnold, Serge Gainsbourg, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jacques Dutronc, “Les Bee Gees,” Claude François, The Easybeats, Manfred Mann, France Gall (who also sings the shows “theme song”) and many many others.

Order Dim Dam Dom from Mod Cinema here.

Below, The Jimi Hendrix Experience performing “Burning of the Midnight Lamp.”
 

 
Bonus clip after the jump: A young Keith Emerson and The Nice performing “Karelia Suite” on “Dim Dam Dom,” 1969.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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For the ladies: How to dress like a punk
09.06.2011
05:30 pm

Topics:
Fashion
Pop Culture
Punk

Tags:
Punk
Fashion


 
For our female readers, here’s all you need to know on how to dress like a punk from former model and fashion expert Wendi Braswell.

The most important things to remember are: do not care what other people think, leather goes nicely with lace, and dress black, dark and dirty.
 

 
How to dress like a “rocker chick” after the jump (it’s easier than you think)...

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Cute and totally irresistible puppies in wedding outfits
09.04.2011
02:40 am

Topics:
Amusing
Animals
Fashion

Tags:
Dogs in wedding outfits


 
I’m just here to try and make you feel good, okay?

If you’re like me, you’re probably a sucker for this kind of stuff.

These pups are rushing into things.  I always recommend waiting to marry until you’ve lived a little…at least until the age of five in dog years.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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DIY Kraftwerk-inspired LED tie
09.01.2011
10:25 am

Topics:
Fashion
Music

Tags:
Kraftwerk
ties
neckties
LED


 
Evil Mad Science Laboratories has step-by-step instructions (and video) for a DIY Kraftwerk-inspired LED necktie.

The good news is that it’s actually easy to make one. And the starting point? A circuit with nine red LEDs and just the right spacing: our open-source Larson Scanner kit. With minor modifications—a software change and dumping the heavy 2xAA battery pack—it makes a pretty awesome tie. In what follows, we’ll show you how to build your own, complete with video.

 
(via Nerdcore)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Marilyn Monroe’s ‘The Last Sitting’ by Bert Stern gif’d


 
These iconic images of Marilyn Monroe were taken in June 1962, six weeks before her death.

(via Ronny)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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France Gall, the ‘Lolita’ of French pop music
08.31.2011
11:03 am

Topics:
Fashion
Music

Tags:
Serge Gainsbourg
Mod Cinema
France Gall


 
Our friends at the mighty Mod Cinema have released another of their high quality 2 DVD-set anthologies of French singers. You may recall me posting about their fantastic Françoise Hardy DVD compilation a few months ago, now gorgeous France Gall gets the Mod Cinema treatment:

Although she’s best-known as the pretty, perky teenager who won the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest, French pop singer France Gall has had a much longer and more varied career than that. Although only a cult figure in most of the rest of the world, Gall is a major star and beloved figure in her native country. The psychedelic-era found Gall, under the guidance of Serge Gainsbourg, singing increasingly strange songs, like “Teenie Weenie Boppie” (a bizarre tune about a deadly LSD trip that somehow involves Mick Jagger) set to some of Gainsbourg’s most out-there arrangements. This DVD compiles rare footage of France Gall performing on French & German TV. 79 songs spanning 2-discs including “Teenie Weenie Boppie”, “Bebe requin”, “Les sucettes”, “Avant la bagarre”, “Toi que je veux”, “La vieille fille”, “Computer No.3”, “Baci, Baci, Baci”, “Dancing disco”, as wells as duets with Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Dutronc, Michel Fugain, Jean-Claude Brialy, Claude Francois, and more!

It’s interesting to note that Walt Disney himself wanted France Gall for a musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, but the project was shelved with Uncle Walt’s death in 1966. Bernardo Bertolucci reportedly wanted her for the leading female role in his X-rated Last Tango in Paris opposite Marlon Brando. Can you imagine? No offense to the late Maria Schneider, but it’s too damned bad that didn’t happen!

Order a copy of The France Gall Collection (1964-1979) at Mod Cinema

Also, if you live in Los Angeles, there are still three more screenings of the new Gainsbourg and His Girls documentary at Cinefamily.

Below, France Gall sings Gainsbourg’s “Baci, Baci, Baci” on Musicolor in 1969.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Fascinating’: Everyone needs to shop at Divine Rags because of THIS man
08.17.2011
12:09 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion

Tags:
Divine Rags


 
“Maybe you, too, might fascinate me!”

NOOOOOOOO!

Who is this freakin’ Third World Billy Dee Williams anyway?

I love his chat up technique: “Shut up.”
 

 

 
(via Dlisted)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Rick Perry vs. Adolf Hitler
08.14.2011
12:56 am

Topics:
Fashion
Politics

Tags:
Adolf Hitler
Rick Perry


 
Rick Perry in 1972. Aryan superman, TexaSS division.
 

 
Thanks to Henry Baum for steering me to the Perry photo.

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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