by Drew Martin
I love the new American Apparel ad of Maks, a gorgeous Bangladeshi-American who is a merchandiser for the company. In the ad she is topless; her ample bosom is partially obscured by the words Made in Bangladesh in a bold Helvetica. I like it first and foremost because Maks is beautiful, naked and natural looking. The words controversial and brave are used to describe the ad and her, particularly because she is from a muslim family, but there is really nothing vulgar about it. I look at it less as a campaign out to shock the world to drive sales, and more as a platform to loosen up prudish thinking. I just hope American Apparel gave her a ton of money for all the attention this is getting.
And I am not actually sure just how shocking this ad is to Bangladeshis. The documentary Whores' Glory features three prostitution hotspots: Thailand, Mexico, and...Bangladesh where there is a ginormous, maze-like brothel known as the City of Joy, which houses hundreds of women and seems to be accepted as part of life. One young man (who visits the brothel a couple times a day) explains in the film that men would be jumping on women in the street if it weren't for the City of Joy.
I first saw the ad with Maks in print on the back cover of the most recent issue of Vice Magazine. On the front cover is a blown-up/full-frontal shot of a cockroach. The picture of Maks is nicer to look at.