An American Apparel unisex t-shirt with a drawing of a woman’s vagina stained with menstrual blood is making headlines.
The $32 ‘Period Tee’ was designed by 20-year-old Toronto-based artist Petra Collins. As a former employee of American Apparel, Collins has created two other t-shirts, including the “Wet Tee,” which features a photograph of a woman’s chest clung to a soaked white t-shirt.
Although raising eyebrows is nothing new to American Apparel, the T-shirt disturbs some customers.
One Daily Mail commentator wrote in regards to the shirt, “As an art historian, I say, fine, if it’s art, put it in a museum or gallery. That’s where controversial art belongs, so that interested people can choose to go see it and to discuss it. Is doesn’t belong on a T-shirt.”
Other commentators were much more to the point, describing the shirt as “horrid,” “vile,” and “disgusting.”
(The uncensored version can be found below.)
The company’s website describes Collins as an artist who “creates portraits exploring female sexuality and teen girl culture.”
In an interview with OysterMag.com last year, Collins said she uses her work to bring taboo topics out in the forefront.
“I find people are uncomfortable when a woman is expressing her sexuality instead of repressing it,” she said in the interview. “In our society, nude or sexually suggestive images of women are automatically seen as negative.”
Collins’s work has been published in magazines such as Vice and i-D. She also works as a contributing photographer for American Apparel. So far, there’s no sign that Collins is going to start listening to opponents of her work.
“We need to make room for the female view of sex and accept it,” she told OysterMag.com. “Until then, people are going to be uncomfortable with [work] like mine.”
Fifty percent of proceeds from the sale of her new American Apparel T-shirts will go to The Ardorous, an online platform or female artists that Collins curates.
American Apparel is no stranger to controversy. As the Huffington Post points out, the company’s CEO, Dov Charney has been accused multiple times of unwanted sexual conduct. Charney is currently involved in four sexual harassment suits, according to American Apparel spokesman Peter Schey. The company has also been accused of racism and its ads have been deemed controversial.
Sources: Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, OysterMag.com, American Apparel