ONTD Political

Urban Outfitters ‘lesbian kiss’ catalog photo sparks parent outrage

10:28 pm - 04/18/2012

The latest Urban Outfitters catalog features an image of two young women kissing and conservative groups are upset.

One Million Moms, the same group that attacked J.C. Penney in February for hiring Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson, has posted a message on its website, warning parents about the image that promotes lesbianism and encouraging them to express their outrage to the retail chain.

WARNING! The April 2012 catalog from Urban Outfitters has begun arriving in home mailboxes the last couple of days. On page two of this catalog is a picture of two women kissing in a face holding embrace! The ad and catalog are clearly geared toward teenagers.

Before your child has a chance to read the newest Urban Outfitters catalog call to unsubscribe from their mailing list at 1-800-282-2200, and then throw it away. When you call be sure to let them know why you are unsubscribing. Tell them you will also no longer shop at their stores if you hear this type of advertising continues. The content is offensive and inappropriate for a teen who is the company’s target customer.

Urban Outfitters hasn’t issued a public response. The company’s president and CEO, Richard Hayne, is a known conservative and he donated over $13,000 to the Rick Santorum campaign. Hayne hasn’t openly expressed his views on gay marriage, but he’s thought to be anti-gay because in 2008 the retailer pulled pro-gay-marriage T-shirt from store shelves.


I think I hate everyone in this story. One Million Moms for being homophobic douchewads, Urban Outfitters for fetishizing lesbians using imagery of lesbians while actively campaigning against LGBT rights.

The clothes are fug, too.

Edited for poor word choice.
13chapters 19th-Apr-2012 08:37 am (UTC)
I'm not sure fetishizing is the right word, in retrospect. (I started second-guessing using that word as soon as I submitted it but oh well.) I think out of context, it would be a sweet photograph, but knowing that Urban Outfitters is a homophobic and generally anti-GLBT retailer makes me suspect their motivation in using this picture. Maybe I should have just gone with hypocritical rather than fetishizing.

I hope this makes sense, it's 1.36am for me and I am up wayyyy past my bedtime.
burningmarl 19th-Apr-2012 08:46 am (UTC)
Yeah, in context of UO it does make me think it's a bit off.

But as a femme lesbian it just feels like I'm never...allowed...to be so without objectifying or fetishising or exotifying...myself.

Whenever I see representations of femme couples in the media (and I'm not talking porn, I'm talking things like this and in music videos and soap operas etc) I'm told that it's bad and wrong and only for men to look at and there aren't any real lesbians out there that look like that.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a five foot eleven skinny blonde model but I look a lot more similar to them than Ellen Degeneres and the idea that them just having a chaste kiss in a catalogue (I know they're probably not in lurrrve but neither are most straight catalogue "couples" and we don't question them!) is fetishising makes me feel really small and invisible.

But then it's amaaaaazing when people put pictures of queer men, especially butch ones, in the media kissing. Ugh!
squeeful 19th-Apr-2012 08:51 am (UTC)
Thank you for saying this better than I could. <3
phoenixblaze 19th-Apr-2012 10:41 am (UTC)
I agree!
13chapters 19th-Apr-2012 08:56 am (UTC)
I totally see your point, but tbh I wasn't thinking about the models being femme at all, I was just thinking about how UO are assholes for thinking they could make themselves look like they aren't actually homophobes by putting out an ad with women kissing. I mean, it did piss off the Million Moms, which is cool, but I don't think it outweighs supporting Rick Santorum (and presumably other anti-GLBT politicians and policies, idk).

If this exact ad had been made by a company with a pro-civil rights stance, I would have thought it was awesome. Except the dresses would still be ugly.

I KNOW this is not my most eloquent comment ever, oh well. Night all!
burningmarl 19th-Apr-2012 10:36 am (UTC)
They are assholes :( Rick Santorum is scary as fuck. Are they also the ones that appropriate Native American culture? And use sweatshops? Or am I mixing up these hipster fools and American Apparel? I do that a lot.

Yeah the dresses are really ugly. I'm quite pleased with the shoes though because we have some black wedges similar to those in work and they're not selling well (because they're fugly) but I find "[more expensive shop] has some just like that!" is an effective selling technique.

Sleep well bb.
roseofjuly 19th-Apr-2012 03:48 pm (UTC)
There are a lot of companies that appropriate Native American culture - American Apparel does it to, and UO probably does it as well. But AA doesn't use sweatshops (allegedly). That's one area in which they are supposedly decent - and the explanation for why their clothes are so ridiculously expensive.
burningmarl 19th-Apr-2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
I see! I don't know if we get them over here in the UK, which is why I'm probably so confused. Thanks for the info, never know when it might come in handy :)
icanseenow 19th-Apr-2012 09:42 am (UTC)
Great comment. I am bisexual and people have the tendency to say "oh! portrayal of bisexual woman! must mean it's only for the benefit of men!" and criticize that. I, for my part, am happy to see non-porny representations of femme lesbians and bisexuals.
burningmarl 19th-Apr-2012 10:32 am (UTC)
:] Thanks

Ugh, look down the page now....
sestree 19th-Apr-2012 09:44 am (UTC)
hmmm odd. I have a few partnered lesbians where both are femme. I think it's perfectly lovely. Then again, I have friends (and neighbors) in all sorts of different and combinations of relationships and so long as everyone is happy I think it's great. I guess I never assumed one half of a lesbian (or gay) relationship was assumed to be butch.

My issue with the photo above - however - is the sensationalizing of a hot button topic to sell stuff.
burningmarl 19th-Apr-2012 10:15 am (UTC)
Fair enough, but that's not my experience. I feel like femmes are consistently derided for not being "proper lesbians" and that any displays of public affection are seen as imitative, even appropriative of "real" lesbians". That's a view I've absorbed from several different sources.

I personally want to see more LGBTQ visibility in the media and that means models, it means femmes. This is a war of attrition, we need to get the images out there, we need to be seen as "normal" and mainstream. And I think images like this are a good place to start.

I wouldn't say this about things like "I kissed a girl just to try it, hope my boyfriend don't mind it. It felt so wrong, it felt so right" etc etc but given that this doesn't seem to be that sort of image, I'm not going to call it fetishisation just because they're two femmes.

I hate that people are focussing more on the fucking shoes these girls are wearing and the fact that it might be ~~fetishisation rather than the fact that there are horrible homophobes that want to stop children seeing images like this.

Whether or not these images were designed to titillate straight men, or whether or not the CEO of UO is also a horrible homophobe this is a tender image compared to things like the heterosexual drowning/domestic violence scene in Lana Del Rey's new video. And it's this image they're trying to prevent children seeing?!?! That is some fucked up shit, and I think focussing on whether or not this image is "fetishising" or whether or not their shoes are the right height is so offensive and irrelevant.
sestree 19th-Apr-2012 10:25 am (UTC)
OK, I see your point. My issue is using a current hot-button topic to sell shit. Focusing on just the photo, the reaction from others, and ignoring the fact is trying to sell something, I definitely see your point.

It was / is a well done age appropriate photo. I could see that exact moment happening (and shoe choices - ha - kids wear strange stuff). I don't see the issue and if people would stop making it an issue it wouldn't be. I am fortunate to be accepted as one of the "straight" (and OMG even vanilla at times) part of my group of friends. They are all very open and honest with their children - and their children are honor students and well behaved - even the teens. Poly relationships, gay and lesbian relationships, and other combinations haven't hurt these children in the least. The only thing it has done that I've noticed, is the kids are more open to giving and accepting affection.
burningmarl 19th-Apr-2012 10:29 am (UTC)
Awh, adorable <3 I love well adjusted kids. [edited to add that I love all kids, but it's especially nice/vindicating when you see well adjusted kids with queer parents.]

I run a choir for queer women and last night in the pub we were discussing things people have said to us about same-sex parenting and it was horrifying.

Edited at 2012-04-19 10:31 am (UTC)
melodic_notes 19th-Apr-2012 08:48 pm (UTC)
Flawless comment.
loulita 19th-Apr-2012 10:51 am (UTC)
You worded this wonderfully <3
per_simmon 19th-Apr-2012 01:22 pm (UTC)
This. This all over the place.
bleed_peroxide 19th-Apr-2012 01:40 pm (UTC)
Your comments in this post so far have been really awesome and insightful. Just figured I'd let you know :)
lil_insanity 19th-Apr-2012 04:59 pm (UTC)
<3 <3 <3
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