Figs, an apparel company known for its scrubs, has apologized after coming under fire for its “insensitive” ad targeting female doctors of osteopathic medicine. The company issued a statement on its social media accounts and removed the video from its site and Instagram after many accused the company of displaying sexism and gender bias in the video.
The video has been shared on Twitter by other users and can be viewed below:
As a current DO student and future physician, the disrespect for female physicians and DOs exhibited in this ad (attached since it was removed from your website) is unforgivable. I will not be supporting FIGS , and encourage all those who purchase scrubs to join me. pic.twitter.com/c7kw28JcvM
— Brenna H (@HOHL_inone) October 13, 2020
The video features a woman wearing bright pink scrubs with a work badge that says “DO,” which stands for doctor of osteopathic medicine. In the short clip, viewers can see that the woman is reading a book called “Medical Terminology for Dummies” and is holding it upside down.
Osteopathic medicine is a medical practice that “sees an interrelated unity in all systems of the body, with each working with the other to heal in times of illness,” according to the American Osteopathic Association’s website. Doctors of osteopathic medicine, DOs, are fully licensed physicians who look at all aspects of a patient’s lifestyle, environment and situation to diagnose an issue, as opposed to looking only at specific symptoms.
The Company Issued an Apology After It Was Criticized & Said Figs Was Founded by Women
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.
— FIGS (@wearfigs) October 13, 2020
The company removed the video from its website and issued a public apology, posting on Twitter: “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.”
A second tweet added, “We dropped the ball and and we are so sorry. We love you guys and we’ll always listen to what you have to say!”
As Figs pointed out, the company was created by two women, Heather Hasson and Trina Spear. The goal, according to the company’s website, was to “not merely improve scrubs, but to completely transform the healthcare experience by putting as much thought into the workwear of medical professionals as they put into caring for their patients.”
WWD reported that the Los Angeles-based Figs has grown exponentially since it was founded in 2013. According to the outlet, the company “has raised $75 million in funding, $65 million of that coming in 2018 in a Series B round.” A Forbes article from April 2020 reported that Figs had grown over six years to revenue of $150 million. The company first started out making only traditional scrubs but soon expanded, selling jackets, lab coats and vests, Forbes reported.
Co-founders Hasson and Spear are also co-CEOs of the company. Hasson told Forbes, “How come people are so focused on the athlete? The Lululemon, the Nike, the Adidas — they make clothes for performance, so athletes can perform better. No one is focused on healthcare professionals who save lives.”
Many DOs & Medical Students Slammed Figs & Said They Would No Longer Buy the Company’s Products
Women can be biased against women. Owning up to that bias and making an effort to understand why you ‘guys’ are biased is more important than ‘sorry your feelings were hurt.’
Think about what young girls think and feel when they see these ads.
— Agnieszka Solberg MD (@AgnesSolberg) October 13, 2020
Many people took to social media to share their outrage and disappointment at the Figs scrubs ad, with the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine issuing a statement on its Facebook:
We are outraged that in 2020, women physicians and doctors of osteopathic medicine are still attacked in thoughtless and ignorant marketing campaigns. A company like FIGS that asks us to spend money on its product should be ashamed for promoting these stereotypes. We demand the respect we’ve earned AND a public apology.
One DO student posted in response to the company’s statement: “As a female and a DO student, how would I ever ‘feel awesome’ about myself knowing that this is how you view me??? And how you want others to view me??? Women and DO’s have fought stereotypes way too long for you to go ahead and put this out there. Do better.”
It's really amazing to see a company alienate one of their main customer demographics, especially one of the groups that can more easily afford your overpriced product.
— Kyle Swanson MD (@kiswanson) October 13, 2020
One physician wrote: “It wasn’t just insensitive – it was inaccurate. Being women owned is great, but internalized misogyny is rampant in your marketing. The dancing, close up of the model’s pelvis & cute but ‘not so smart’ persona is insulting. It’s not making me feel ‘awesome.’”
Another reply said, “this doesn’t feel like a slipup by one person…. adverts go through teams, through iterations of decision making. with people whose job it is to make sure there’s alignment w/brand. sounds like your teams hold healthcare workers, especially female DO’s, in disdain. then your apology also stinks – no mention at all of what you did wrong, just being sorry that we’re offended.”
I’m literally embarrassed to be wearing @wearfigs right now. Will go change the first chance I get! Btw, I don’t know any women in medicine who read books upside down. 🙄. Your views of women are truly disappointing. pic.twitter.com/jdobqxJtAO
— Dr. Starry Eyes (@DrStarryEyes) October 13, 2020