Scrubs brand apologises for ad showing female physician holding 'Medical Terminology for Dummies' book

'Making female physicians look dumb isn’t even a little funny,' one person tweeted 

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Thursday 15 October 2020 21:34 BST
Scrubs brand Figs apologises for 'insensitive' advert

A medical apparel company that sells scrubs has issued a public apology after a recent video advertisement showed female medical professionals reading a Medical Terminology for Dummies book.

In the video for Figs scrubs, a woman dressed in pink scrubs with a name tag reading DO, for doctor of osteopathic medicine, can be seen holding the book upside down.

DOs are fully trained and licensed physicians who take a more holistic, “whole-person approach” to medicine compared to medical doctors, according to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

Shortly after it was released, the ad sparked widespread backlash from hundreds in the medical community, with many accusing the Los Angeles-based brand of “misogyny” and of “demeaning” and “belittling” female doctors.

“@wearfigs @FIGSscrubs Very disappointing to see your ad belittling hard-working and successful women physicians... you just lost a huge chunk of your target audience,” one person tweeted.

Another said: “This Figs scrubs advertisement belittles women, DOs and our medical profession. Female physicians have dedicated themselves to helping patients and advancing science and this is how you portray us? THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.”

“Hey, @figsScrubs. This isn’t really a good look. Making female physicians look dumb isn’t even a little funny,” someone else wrote.

The advertisement also prompted the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine to release a statement calling the campaign “thoughtless and ignorant”.

“We are outraged that in 2020, women physicians and doctors of osteopathic medicine are still attacked in thoughtless and ignorant marketing campaigns," the statement read. “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."

On Tuesday, Figs removed the advertisement from its website and apologised on social media, where it called the video “insensitive”.

“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!)” the company wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “Figs is a female-founded company whose only mission is to make you guys feel awesome.

“We dropped the ball and we are so sorry. We love you guys and we’ll always listen to what you have to say!”

In a lengthier statement released a day later, the brand said the video was “offensive” and that it should have never been created nor published on the Figs website.

The company also said it would be taking steps to ensure that a similar mistake does not happen in the future, including hiring “advisors from the healthcare community” to “ensure Figs is responsibly and respectfully bringing these professions to life.”

Additionally, the medical apparel brand said it would have a medical professional at every shoot moving forward and would be “implementing a more robust approval process” with its in-house team.

In the apology, Figs also said it will be donating $100,000 to the AOA after having a conversation about furthering their mission of diversity and inclusion in the field.

“As a female-founded and led company, misogyny and gender discrimination is something we don’t tolerate,” the company concluded. “The fact that we have in some way contributed to that is unacceptable to us and we are deeply sorry.

“We will not let this happen again.”

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