Following the public brou-ha-ha that erupted over Nancy Upton’s hilarious skewering of American Apparel’s “Next BIG Thing” chubby model contest, the company attempted to win her over by flying her to L.A., giving her a tour of their factory, and talking to her about how to market to plus size women in a way that would actually make them want to buy their clothes. Well, now Nancy is back from the trip, and has written a blog post that expresses her utter ambivalence over the efforts the company made to convince her they’re better than that contest made them seem.
The post itself is long and meandering, but you should definitely read it all if you have time. Over the course of it, we see Nancy Upton trying very hard to find things to like about the company that generously flew her to L.A., but being stymied at every turn by their willful incompetence and stupidity. It’s almost painful to watch her struggling to like people who, at the end of the day, are just not very likable.
First, she talks about the many hours she spent touring the factory, which seems like something of an attempt to distract her from the issues at hand. AmAppy loves to parade their fairly treated factory workers out whenever anyone criticizes any other aspect of the company. Nancy never took issue with how you make your clothes, guys. Furthermore, Iris Alonzo told Nancy she had to submit any video she wanted to post to her for approval first, which was not part of the original deal. But she listened, because most of the video was boring.
Next, she had a meeting with the women who’d designed the horrible fat girl contest, which Iris pretended to record but actually (through deviousness or sheer incompetence, you never know with AA) failed to turn the sound on. Of the meeting, Nancy had this to say:
I was very happy with the way the meeting went. Despite the icy feelings from some of the women (which, I mean, are pretty understandable in a personal context), I felt like we had a really interesting discussion about marketing to plus-size women (hint: they’re made of flesh and blood just like you, market to them the same way you market to everyone, unless of course your entire marketing strategy has your company hemorrhaging money) and about where the contest went wrong.
Okay, so far so good. I do take some issue with this bit, though:
At one point towards the end of the contest discussion, one employee looked like she was going to cry. Say what you want about the advertising, CEO and product (Lord knows I do), there are strong, passionate people behind this company, who I truly think mean the best in what they do and how they operate as a business.
Sure, “looking like you are going to cry” could be a sign of how passionate you are about improving your company. It’s also a tactic often used by mean girls on the playground when they get in trouble for doing something nasty to another girl. You are the one who fucked up, American Apparel chick, so stop acting so wounded. Haven’t we been over this before?
However, Nancy realized that she was giving them waaaay too much credit when Iris emailed her to ask if there was anything she’d like to add, and she responded that she felt their convo in L.A. had been sufficient. Here is Iris’ response:
THEY CAN HARDLY REMEMBER WHAT WAS SAID AT ALL. Really, dudes? You spent hundreds of dollars flying Nancy and Shannon out to L.A., allegedly to have an important conversation with her about how to be less awful, and you don’t even remember what the fuck you talked about? Because you were eating cream puffs during the meeting? Did they contain some kind of magic forgetfulness serum? Furthermore, you’re not even self-aware enough to realize this sudden amnesia is embarrassing, and maybe not something you should reveal to the person who is currently somewhat important to how your company is perceived? How fucking stupid can you be?! They cannot even pretend to give a shit for one second, not even when it will directly benefit them. (I also think it was kind of a dick move to do this when Dov Charney was “out of town on business,” but whatever.) Or, as Nancy Upton put it:
This company spent thousands of dollars flying Shannon and I to LA, to meet with their team and they can’t even remember what we discussed. Nor do they care to. They want me to write something happy go-lucky about how positive our meeting was for women everywhere, and then they want to sign off on it, you know, in case I forget anything.
Well, news fucking flash: that’s not what I’m doing. I said that I would write about what I saw no matter what it was, and the three sentences of that email tell more truth about what went on in this bizarro adventure than anything I saw in that factory or those offices.
If there’s anything else I could possibly have to say (for I’ve certainly said a lot), it’s that I started this journey on what was a big (ha) joke about perception. The way we see other people defines them for us, more than any other form you can know or interact with a person.
My perception about this company was basically “they know not what they do.” Then I met a lot of them, and it changed to, “they know not what they do, but boy are they trying to fix that.” Now, it’s somewhere along the lines of “how can you possibly not understand what you do?” I hope they figure it out.
Maybe someday I’ll write about my own experiences dealing with this company in a professional capacity. For now, all I’ll say is that this maddening blend of real and feigned ignorance seems to be a signature trait of theirs. At least they’re consistent?
(Via Nancy Upton)