The University of Michigan student group Fashion for Freedom staged a mock fashion show on campus Friday to protest the sexualization of women's bodies in advertising, which the group believes promotes sexual violence and human trafficking.
The group then marched on downtown Ann Arbor retailers, applauding those with respectful advertising and protesting stores with ad campaigns it believes objectify women, including American Apparel.
The group has asked retailers to take its pledge not to objectify women in their advertising. It has particularly targeted American Apparel for protest. That company's CEO was fired in June 2014 for sexual misconduct.
One of the group leaders, Rachel Beglin, said the students decided to take action against objectification in fashion ads because they wanted a way to attack the larger problems of human trafficking and rape.
“We started looking around and saw that a really big source of the objectification of women and the sexualization of women’s bodies were in advertisements,” Beglin says.
A number of local Ann Arbor retailers have signed onto the group’s anti-objectification pledge, including The Getup Vintage, Pitaya, Bivouac, The M Den, and Ragstock.
The students hoped to show their disapproval of the American Apparel ad campaign by entering the store and observing a moment of silence for women who have been victims of sexual violence.