Ready, set, fire!

Photo: Daily Mail
Photo: Daily Mail

That’s what American Apparel got with its new Made in Bangladesh campaign. The campaign which features a 22-year-old Muslim model going topless has received harsh feedback from many.

Despite the controversy, Maks, the model who posed for the campaign has opened up about her decision to star in the ad.

“I was fully comfortable with the photo shoot and went with it,” says Maks, who does not wish to reveal her last name.

The retail strategist who’s based in Los Angeles decided to ‘distance’ herself from Islam in high school and said that she saw the campaign as an opportunity to show how “all women should feel strong and powerful no matter what their background or what they were taught they had to be.”

“We should all be able to freely express ourselves no matter where we come from,” she added.

Maks, who posed in only a pair of American Apparel high-waist jeans continued: “I fully support the message of the ad. I love and embrace all cultures and religions. I am choosing to be creative and expressing myself freely.”

The Made in Bangladesh campaign was released last week and will be featured in Vice’s U.S. and Canadian editions. The campaign was aimed to speak more to Maks’ Bangladeshi heritage than her religious affiliation – or lack thereof.

Born in Dhaka, the model immigrated to California with her family at the tender age of four.

Bangladesh, the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China, has of course been at the centre of extensive media coverage for the multiple deadly garment factory fires that have erupted across the country in the last 18 months.

American Apparel, which goes to great lengths to promote its Made-in-the-USA sensibilities, pays garment workers wages that range from $12- $14, which they claim are the highest in the world. These huge difference have provided Maks with the hope that American Apparel could influence and help change the culture of future clothing production practices worldwide.

“Unlike other retail companies that employ sweatshops in countries like Bangladesh, American Apparel has a very unique and ethical approach. We pay our workers fair wages. We give them healthcare and other benefits,” she said.

Maks declined to comment about her family, friends, and co-workers’ reaction, but like many American Apparel campaigns before, her ad was not released without controversy.

Twitter user Lingran Kong wrote: ‘American Apparel desperate stunt to make money by using recent Bangladesh factory disasters?’

 

Women interest site Jezebel called the ad a ‘stunt’ and accused American Apparel of using breast to promote fair labour practices.

But in writing for ELLE.com Bangladeshi author Tanwi Nandini Islam says: ‘This ad has little to do with the woman in front of us, and everything to do with the Bangladeshi female garment worker who remains invisible. This is what American Apparel looks like. This is what our fantasy of what ‘Made in Bangladesh’ looks like. Not a poor, underpaid, overworked young woman making you a $5 shirt for 30 cents an hour.’

What are your thoughts about the ad? Sound off in the comments.

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