American Apparel

American Apparel is no stranger to sex. From selling gay porn magazines proudly in their stores to the perceived exploitation of young female models, American Apparel doesn't shy away from being provocative.

But, what’s up with their latest T-shirt design?

We all know that sex sells, but can we say the same thing for masturbation while menstruating? American Apparel seems to think so.

From the clothing company whose tagline says they support "artists and ethical manufacturing," comes a new screen-printed design.

The shirt in question, aptly named “Period Power,” features a line drawing of a woman masturbating and menstruating. Yes, both. At the same time. And the woman, whose vagina is on display, has a colorful #nailspo-worthy manicure to top it off.

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The "self pleasing artwork" was designed by 20-year-old artist Petra Collins. She’s also the curator for The Ardorous, an all-female online art platform. The idea for the shirt came from a female-centric art show called Gynolandscape, that American Apparel and Collins curated.

The shirt costs $32 and American Apparel is donating half of the proceeds of the sale of the shirts to The Ardorous collective.

According to the product description:

"Petra began her infatuation with photography at age 15 and became an American Apparel retail employee around the same time. She creates portraits exploring female sexuality and teen girl culture."

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According to the company, the shirt is so popular that the item is out of stock. It will be at least another week before their stock is replenished.

In addition to the collaboration with American Apparel, Collins recently released a video she directed with a similar title:

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Here’s the description of the video:

"It is the year 2020 and women have lost the right to their bodies completely. In this tale of sweet revenge, a cult of courageous women go to extremes to take back what is rightfully theirs."

I get the intention – at least I think I do:

Pussy.

Periods.

Power.

But, it still just looks like an American Apparel ad come to life. There’s a similar "virginal," dewy-faced, pre-pubescent aesthetic about it and primary-colored-spandex galore that you see in the ads. (American Apparel provided the wardrobe.) In a nutshell, it falls flat. Pussy Power is a cross between a B-rated superhero film (with a plot you just don’t understand) and a 1970s porn flick. While watching, it's hard to think anything more than "OMG?!"

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And while there was some ethnic diversity to the piece, there is NO body diversity whatsoever. That’s rather unfortunate given that Collins’ work screams "pro-female." And, it's hard to read the video as being pro-woman art when American Apparel is well-known for exploiting women to sell clothing.

But back to the shirt…

While representing one’s womanhood loud and proud is bad ass, who wants to see this on a t-shirt? More importantly, where would one wear this shirt?

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To answer this question, I polled some of my Facebook friends and here is what they had to say (Only my female friends commented):

"I understand the sentiment behind it, but I think it’s overkill. I don’t want to see oversized bare genitals (male or female) on a t-shirt. Also, no one taught me to hate my period. But, it’s painful and messy. Should I be happy that every month I’m in pain?" - Urnesha Belcon, 36 (Arima, Trinidad & Tobago)

"It’s kinda lame, in a 20-year-old-making-a-statement sort of way. It lacks nuance. This drawing…is amateurish and cartoonish…I avert my eyes just as I do for truck testicles. C’mon…yuck!" - Megan Smith, 36 (Lexington, Kentucky)

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"I’d totally buy one…I’m already planning an outfit around it! I think they need [to make] a brown one, too." - Karen Lewis, 28 (Miami, Florida)

"I like the idea of trying to make taboos become the "norm" because why should we shy away from what comes natural?…but, I don’t want it on my shirt!" - Rachel Darden, 20 (Baltimore, Maryland)

But, you be the judge…is this a legitimate work of art or just another sexually provocative antic to attract media attention?

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If so, apparently it worked. Period.