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American Eagle pushes the envelope with racy ad

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

An ad campaign from a popular clothing company is raising eyebrows with parents, and generating a little pushback from a Chicago modeling agency.

The mailer, from American Eagle, started showing up in mailboxes this week. It shows a young looking model in very risqué clothing in a provocative pose.

“That particular image in the center is what really concerns me a lot about the message that we tell our teenagers,” said Marie P. Anderson, the Fashion and Beauty Director with Agency Galatea in Chicago. “I don't know for sure if the girl is underage, she certainly looks like she's very young, that photograph makes me very uncomfortable,” she said.

We met her at a photo shoot in Rogers Park where Chicago model Jessica Klaas was being photographed in her wedding dress.

“I never do anything that I second-think or think that I might regret later on,” Klaas said. She too called the central photo of the American Eagle mailer “inappropriate.”

“If I were the parent of that child I would be upset by that photo because not only do young girls look at that, young boys look at that, older men look at that,” Klaas said.

Anderson said at Agency Galatea one of the guiding philosophies is to make sure models don’t do shoots while they are young that they will regret later on in life.

“I believe in our industry that there are no boundaries and the closer you get to the money and the power, very few people are going to stand up for themselves and say no. That they would rather have a photograph taken of them that they think is going to make them more successful. But my concern is what is the price that they pay for that success. I think that they lose their integrity,” Anderson said.

Using sexy, scantily clad women to sell clothing or other products is nothing new, but some parents worry about but how far is too far when the target audience is teens.

Klaas doesn't oppose sexy, her portfolio contains some eye catching images, but she said she is somewhat conservative. What concerns her is the oversexualization of young models.

“I think companies are pushing the envelope cause young kids are pushing the envelope. They're exposed to such a different culture than even I was exposed to, I'm 24 and I see my younger cousin who just turned 18 and her maturity level and things that she knows about and just sexuality and all these things are so much more advanced,” Klaas said.

Her advice to younger models is simple:

“Don't ever sacrifice a piece of yourself for someone else because this is an industry where people tend to take more than they give,” Klaas said.

Anderson, who has been in the modeling industry since she was a kid, said she made mistakes in her younger years that she regrets. Now she’s trying get some redemption by the way she runs her business.

“I've been called old fashioned, I'm a prude, I'm a has-been, I'm too old, it just goes on and on. But I don't care,” Anderson said.

Except about those models she can influence now.

American Eagle could not be reached for comment as of Thursday.

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