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American Apparel releases controversial ad featuring topless former-Muslim model

American Apparel
American Apparel
Courtesy of American Apparel

As LU’s Renee Ral noted in January, clothing manufacturer American Apparel seems to be as interested in making waves as in making clothes. The company made headlines back then by featuring mannequins in its New York store that were replete with pubic hair.

Now the outfitter has taken a bite of an even more forbidden fruit by running an ad starring a busty topless woman from Bangladesh who was once a follower of Islam.

The Daily Mail notes:

The bold image, which appears in Vice magazine's U.S. and Canada editions, stars 22-year-old Maks, a merchandiser for American Apparel, who was born in Dhaka but has lived in California since the age of four.

The words 'Made in Bangladesh' are printed across her chest — referring to the woman, of course, not her jeans, a means of raising awareness about American Apparel's fair labor practices — all its clothing is made in downtown LA.

The powerful image is accompanied by a description of Maks, revealing how she was raised a strict Muslim but 'distanced herself' from her Islamic faith as she grew up, in search of her 'own identity.'

The model’s wardrobe, or lack thereof, seems intended to incite as much as excite. In Islamic cultures, women are made as invisible as possible in public, dressed in traditional garb that conceals virtually every part of the anatomy except for the eyes. In the strictest societies, failure to adhere to the Draconian dress code can result in death by stoning.

In contrast to that medieval ethic, the ad boasts that the model in it “doesn't feel the need to identify herself as an American or a Bengali and is not content to fit her life into anyone else's conventional narrative.”

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