FIGS, a medical clothing company trying to bring style to scrubs, found itself in hot water this week after airing a video that many found to be sexist and archaic in its portrayal of women in the medical field.
The controversial advertisement featured a woman in neon pink scrubs holding a Medical Terminology for Dummies book upside down. The camera then zooms in on her waistband and shows her work ID which reads “DO.” In the medical community, “DO” is short for doctors of osteopathic medicine, which involves a more holistic approach to treating patients than traditional practices.
Upon its release, the video was met with immediate backlash, as people felt the ad was an insult to the osteopathic field and women working in the medical profession as a whole.
The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine released a statement expressing their outrage that “in 2020, women physicians and doctors of osteopathic medicine are still attacked in thoughtless and ignorant marketing campaigns."
Several female physicians, doctors and nurses also voiced their anger, arguing a video like this is a direct insult against all the hard work that has been done to bring equality to a field that was once dominated by men.
— Tayyaba Ahmed (@DrTayAhmed) October 13, 2020
Super disappointed to see this from @wearfigs in 2020, disparaging a female DO. Oddly, haven’t found any male docs, MDs, or other med professionals shown reading “Dummy” books upside down on Figs website. Definitely questioning my patronage. @AOAforDOs @DrJenCaudle @Emergidoc pic.twitter.com/8ZUdmn80c8
— Bridget McIlwee, DO, FAOCD, FAAD (@SPFnOMT) October 13, 2020
As women physicians in 2020, we still struggle to be taken seriously compared to our male counterparts, as we battle stereotypes like THIS EXACT ONE. We expect the brands we support to reflect the badasses we are. @wearfigs - women physicians are disappointed in you. Do better. pic.twitter.com/KXEQNAZJzs
— Jessica K. Willett, MD (@jkwillettmd) October 13, 2020
I have always questioned the ethics of this company based on the way they take advantage of young docs, but now with this dedicated marketing campaign putting down women and DOs it’s become clear that you should shop elsewhere. @wearfigs #whoswithme #disappointed #WomenInMedicine pic.twitter.com/ZFxTav90Bb
— Dr. Mike Varshavski (@RealDoctorMike) October 13, 2020
Women in medicine should be celebrated- not mocked or degraded. This is what you decide to put in your ad @wearfigs?? I don’t see you making similar jokes about male physicians. Women docs work twice as hard to be taken seriously. Shame on you. No longer a customer. Sad. :( pic.twitter.com/a5wfpoD7tN
— Dr. Carolyn Parma (@DrCarolynParma) October 13, 2020
This is a huge NOPE from @wearfigs: perpetuating an “airhead” image of women and of DOs. Really? What were you thinking? There are too many brands for us to choose from for you to be doing this 😡 pic.twitter.com/jSKSUafwrd
— Esther Choo, MD MPH (@choo_ek) October 13, 2020
FIGS deleted the video and tried to make amends by issuing an apology on social media, admitting that they “dropped the ball” and ensuring people that they “always listen to what you have to say.”
“A lot of you guys have pointed out an insensitive video we had on our site — we are incredibly sorry for any hurt this has caused you, especially our female DOs (who are amazing!) FIGS is a female-founded company whose only mission is to make you guys feel awesome,” read a statement from the official FIGS Twitter account.
However, more than a thousand replies made it abundantly clear that people felt that the expression of regret was insufficient. Some demanded the company explain its decision to air the advertisement in the first place, while others said the declaration was a weak attempt to apologize for such an ignorant message.
“You really need to come out with the notes on this and what the thought process was going into this,” Twitter user Christina H. wrote in response. “Let's call it what it is, sexist. Until you own it, no apology will be enough. Oh, and just because you were founded by a female doesn't mean you can't be sexist.”
FIGS sent Yahoo Life a lengthier note Wednesday, saying that the product video was offensive and it “should have never been created and it should never have been published.” It continued:
“How did this even get made?” This is the main question we’ve heard in our conversations with everyone. It’s one we’ve asked internally. Our mission at FIGS has always been to empower medical professionals. Beyond a lapse in judgment, the bottom line is — our processes at FIGS failed. We are fixing that now. It will never happen again. Going forward we will bring our healthcare community into the fold. We will be hiring advisors from the healthcare community with a variety of skill sets and specialties to ensure FIGS is responsibly and respectfully bringing these professions to life. We are committing today to have a healthcare professional present at every shoot to weigh in on creative and styling decisions.
Lastly, the company is donating $100,000 to the American Osteopathic Association.
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