Doctors are not reacting well to a video that medical apparel maker Figs put out.
The video, promoting a hot pink style of comfort scrubs that the Los Angeles-based brand is known for, shows a young woman in the scrubs and glasses, who is not only reading “Medical Terminology for Dummies,” but doing so with the book upside down. Figs also makes and sells activewear and recently designed a sneaker with New Balance. It’s billed itself as a “disruptor” in the medical apparel space and grown fast since its founding in 2013. The company has raised $75 million in funding, $65 million of that coming in 2018 in a Series B round.
Hundreds of doctors, nurses and medical students, men and women alike, took to social media Tuesday to express their outrage at a company, founded by two women, for promoting what many pointed out is a negative stereotype of female doctors and medical professionals being less educated or incompetent.
“As a current [doctor of osteopathic medicine] and a future physician, the disrespect for female physicians exhibited in this ad is unforgivable,” a woman wrote on Twitter. “I will not be supporting Figs and I encourage all those who purchase scrubs to join me.”
The company removed the video from Instagram and posted an apology on social media, saying: “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. 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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/qPf51a6EAd
— miss med student 🎃👻🕸 (@missmedstudent) October 13, 2020
But that apology didn’t appear to have much of an effect for those unhappy with the video. “Medical Twitter” has become a group of its own on the platform and gained even more of a profile during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In response to the apology post, a woman doctor wrote, “I hope [Figs] apologizes for being sexist and insulting the intelligence of women physicians rather than hurt feelings.” She also noted the use of the book and it being held upside down was obviously what was intended for the video. “How could that book even make it to the photo shoot without intention.”
Another woman doctor said simply, “This is not an apology. You’re sorry for how people feel? How about you apologize for your lack of sensitivity.”
As for Figs pointing out within its apology that it was founded by two women, that didn’t sit well with the doctors and medical students either.
“Women can be biased against women,” one woman doctor wrote. “You don’t get a pass.”
And this led to other complaints about the brand and its current and past marketing efforts. One doctor said “internalized misogyny is rampant in your marketing.” Another noted how all Figs models are “real thin” and “super young.” Another mentioned that the brand had some of its ambassadors utilize quotes from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg on social media, right after her death, “to push scrubs.”
A representative of the company could not be immediately reached for comment.