As proof that a year can’t go by without American Apparel’s advertising dancing the thin line between provocative and racist, the company’s “Made in Bangladesh” ad is still taking lots of heat. The ad features Maks, a model who was born in the Bangladeshi capitol of Dhaka, with the words “Made in Bangladesh” scrawled across her chest and a detailed account of her background as a Los Angeles-based merchadiser who’s been with the company since 2010.
Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed lets loose in an open letter over at the Aerogram, carefully noting that there’s no “slut shaming” to her critique:
Did you know that the garment industry in Bangladesh is built on the backs of women? And that last April outside your birth city of Did you know that the garment industry in Bangladesh is built on the backs of women? Dhaka,when the garment factory Rana Plaza collapsed killing 1,129 people and injured 2,515, that most of them were women? Did you know that hundreds of orphans were left behind, motherless and penniless? Did you know that in 2012 at the Tazreen Fashion Factory fire where 117 people died, it was said the deaths could have been prevented if the exits were not blocked?
We live in a global economy where we need to apply pressure to large corporations like GAP and Wal-Mart to require international factories to hold to a certain standard of safety. We are beyond the point where buying only American-made is the simple solution. Boycotting Bangladesh made products means we’re boycotting the Deshi-made women that helped get us here — our Ammas and Khalas and Chachis. Amadher bhon, our sisters. We just want to make sure they are safe and can survive.
Don’t you see, Appu? That by having “Made In Bangladesh” splayed across your breasts,American Apparel is commodifying a recent tragedy that has killed thousands of people.American Apparel is commodifying a recent tragedy that has killed thousands of people. They are taking the death of thousands of people in Bangladesh as a marketing opportunity to sell their clothes in America. Don’t you see how morbid that is? Don’t you see how your image has been exploited and how you’ve been manipulated?