A unisex T-shirt emblazoned with a drawing of a woman’s vagina stained with menstrual blood has been deemed ‘vile’, ‘gross’ and ‘disturbing’ since going on sale at American Apparel.
The retailer notes on its website that the $32 ‘Period Tee’ was designed by 20-year-old Toronto-based artist, Petra Collins, who ‘creates portraits exploring female sexuality and teen girl culture.’
Venting disgust on Twitter, one commentator, @sawissinger wrote, ‘this is the worst thing I can possibly think of,’ while @kawaii_origami tweeted, ‘are you kidding me?’
However, @Hello_TerriLowe appeared more enthusiastic about the design, stating ‘I’ll take two’.
Miss Collins, a former employee of American Apparel, told MailOnline that the T-shirt puts three very taboo topics about female sexuality – ‘pubic hair, masturbation, and menstruation’ – on display for the public.
She continued: ‘This image is stating that women are not a subordinate creature to just be entered.
‘We are our own beings control of our own sexuality. I find it interesting that images addressing sexuality and reproduction are hidden and often looked at as disgusting.’
She created three T-shirts for American Apparel in total. Another one of her offerings, called the ‘Wet Tee’, features a photograph of a woman’s chest clung to a soaked white T-shirt.
BuzzFeed.com notes that compared to the ‘Period Tee’, the image of ‘erect car wash nipples’ seems rather ‘restrained’.
In an interview with OysterMag.com last year Miss Collins said that she uses her work to get people confronting a reality they would rather ignore.
‘I think teen sexuality is a taboo topic, specifically female sexuality. [It] tends to be ignored or looked down on.
‘I find people are uncomfortable when a woman is expressing her sexuality instead of repressing it. In our society, nude or sexually suggestive images of women are automatically seen as negative.
‘We need to make room for the female view of sex and accept it. Until then, people are going to be uncomfortable with [work] like mine.’
Miss Collins’ work has been published in magazines including Vice and i-D and she acts as a contributing photographer for American Apparel.
Fifty per cent of proceeds from the sale of her new American Apparel T-shirts, available in the U.S. and Europe, will go to The Ardorous – a platform for female artists that Miss Collins curates.