The Image Cannot Lie?


Semiotics are the study of signs, signs which are based on the signifiers and the signified; what we see and what is meant. By observing what an image beholds, our own beliefs, knowledge and characteristics come into play and help us interpret the meaning conveyed.

The signifiers are what we observe in an image before any interpretation or meaning is concluded.In the above advertisement, an adolescent girl is captured in a black and white bedroom setting. She is posing in a provocative manner while laying on a bed. She is dressed in nothing but knee high socks while a white ‘American Apparel’ banner is positioned between her legs censoring her ‘private parts’.

From these signifiers we can then determine the signified. This process is when our personal opinions and knowledge come into focus creating mixed interpretations. and how we acknowledge the signs presented to us. These mixed interpretations are the main reason controversial images arise in the first place.

In the above American Apparel advert, some may see a well known and popular clothing brand promoting its edgy fashion through eccentric photographs while others may see a highly inappropriate ad campaign encouraging the exploitation of women through an almost pornographic scene. It is hard to deny that this clothing brand is “pushing the limits of sexual exploitation of women and essentially using pornography to sell its clothes”- Business Insider Australia. Based on the reviews it is clear that American Apparel campaigns are harmful, indecent and are an extremely bad influence to the young women of today’s generation. This is a great example of how an image can, in fact, lie. By allowing two or more interpretations an image’s intent is never ‘true’.

American Apparel is notorious for promoting risqué fashion campaigns, however it has never been their intention to cross the line into pornography. This just goes to show that when an image receives a different understandings, an image cannot portray one single message, meaning an image can lie. Through different perceptions we can believe the image above can convey various representations resulting in a ‘false pretense.’

In my opinion, American Apparel has heavily objectified women simply because ‘sex sells’. However we are growing as a generation and need to acknowledge that this concept is no longer acceptable. It is wrong, inappropriate and shows we are poorly influencing the generations to come. American Apparel is a clothing company specially targeted for teenage girls and to make them think that this is how they should look, dress and act is intolerable.


Ujala Sehgal, 27 January 2011, How American Apparel Descended Into Pornography: A Study In Pictures, Business Insider, viewed 21 March 2015

 Shannon Lawson, 11 October 2010, Put It Back Where It Belongs, MDIA1001- Media Literacies, viewed 21 March 2015


One thought on “The Image Cannot Lie?

  1. I like your choice of photograph here, l believe it represents this weeks theme well. I agree on how you mentioned the signifiers and the signified and then described perfectly in a short paragraph what exactly was going on in the image. The way you established how one can interpret the image depending on their ideological position was accurate and interesting especially to see your personal opinion on it. The only constructive criticism l can think of is work on your intro and reflect rather than explain apart from that, awesome read!


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