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Dallas Actress Nancy Upton’s Creative Protest of American Apparel’s Plus-Size Model Search

Dallas actress and SMU student Nancy Upton was not pleased with American Apparel’s call for plus-size models. The company, which has a history of what some might call “sleazybehavior, held an online contest called “The Next BIG Thing” (the emphasis is theirs), looking for “booty-ful” women “XL-ent” enough to model a new line of size 12-14 clothing. While plenty of women submitted standard model-type shots of themselves (think hands on hips, hair blowing in the breeze), Upton sent in photos of herself posing provocatively with various foods. The pictures, taken by Dallas photographer Shannon Skloss, show Upton in her underwear, pouring chocolate syrup and ranch dressing on herself. Others show Upton eating fried chicken in a pool, naked with only a cherry pie, and laying on a dining room table with an apple in her mouth. (You can see the photos here.)

It was done as a protest, Upton has explained on the blog she started and in several interviews. Her cause was taken up by feminist sites like Jezebel.com and blasted around the internets. Now the contest is over, and guess who got the most votes… But in a recent Q&A,  Upton says she doesn’t expect to hear from the company anytime soon:

“I figured I’d do it, and my friends on Facebook would think it was funny and they’d repost it, and people who saw it on the Internet would troll it, and be like, ‘She’s horrifyingly fat and weird!’ But I didn’t expect it to become international news. That’s pretty surprising.”

9 comments on “Dallas Actress Nancy Upton’s Creative Protest of American Apparel’s Plus-Size Model Search

  1. Your decision to shine a light on this story is interesting — especially given the list of candidates you have for D Magazine’s most beautiful woman. And even though you cloak your contest with the appearance of intelligence and success as a factor, in the end it’s about a universal definition of beauty and little else. Don’t get me wrong, love me some pretty women and enjoy a good beauty contest, but I see very grey shades of difference between American Apparel’s contest and D Magazine’s.

  2. Something about this stunt bothered me, and a friend of mine got to the heart of it: “I’m sympathetic to people that find AA’s advertising exploitative and trashy, but I wonder if this author even bothered to look at any of the other models that submitted photos. Because if she did, she would have seen that there were a number of serious young women that were professional models that entered this contest as well. I kind of feel like her article is just shitting on those people and their dreams/goals, and this stunt diminishes so-called plus-sized or curvy women and their image in the popular culture as sex symbols to nothing more than FAT. Curves does not equal salad dressing guzzling fat pig, which is what her entry says about those women. I call bullshit on her self-serving stunt and article; Nancy Upton is just as much an opportunist as Dov Charney.”

  3. Oh, so it’s OK to poke fun at “supermodels” who don’t eat more than a salad every 3 days and look like you thump them into the next country and people can protest that all they want, but if someone makes a political statement the other direction, it makes them an opportunist? Wow, talk about reverse discrimination. If you would bother to take the time to read Nancy’s interviews, she specifically states that she has the utmost respect for the curvy girls who do actually make a living from modeling. The issue has nothing to do with the modeling itself…it has to do with a company that has spent so much time making it clear that they don’t cater to anyone over a size 10. Now that their financial situation isn’t quite so pretty as they try to make their models, they’ve made it clear that they’re “giving in” and creating XL size clothing just as a way to save their own butts…if you need to see more about the company, try the “sleazy” link in the article above. It’s extremely two-face and opportunistic of AMERICAN APPAREL, NOT NANCY!!!! And all I have left to say is MORE POWER TO YOU NANCY!!!