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A Plus-Sized Model Search Gets Punk'd

Tumblr tapped to parody American Apparel contest

Photo: Shannon Skloss Photography

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When American Apparel launched its plus-sized model search (with the somewhat tone-deaf title “The Next BIG Thing”), it got more than it bargained for in Nancy Upton.

A 24-year-old student with a pretty face and luxuriant size 12 physique, Upton had never been a fan of the hipster clothier, renowned for its slim-fitting togs and the off-color antics of its CEO, Dov Charney. But something about the call for “booty-ful” girls spurred her to action. Upton entered the contest, but only to parody the company’s iconic soft-core image.

“It’s really tacky, poorly done, offensive, and demeaning,” she tells Adweek. “So I took that tone of theirs—’Hey fat people, you can play too’—and used it as an inspiration for my photos.” Shot by a friend, Upton poses bathing in ranch dressing, pouring chocolate syrup into her mouth, and stuffing her face with chicken in a pool.

When Upton posted the pictures, which manage to be both sexy and satirical, to her tumblr (extrawiggleroom.tumblr.com), the Internet took notice. With help from the sympathetic blogosphere, Upton had by far the most votes at AA’s website by the close of the contest last week.

The company did not immediately return calls for an interview, so it remains to be seen if Upton ends up winning. At least for her part, she says she’d turn down the contract.