Figs, a medical apparel company known for stylish scrubs, apologized Tuesday for a video advertisement on its website that targeted doctors of osteopathic medicine.
"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 said in a statement. "FIGS is a female founded company whose only mission is to make you guys feel awesome."
The company also tweeted: "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!"
The video, which is no longer on the company's website, features a woman in neon pink scrubs reading a book titled "Medical Terminology for Dummies" while holding it upside down.
The camera zooms in on the woman as she adjusts the waist of her pants, capturing a work identification card that says "DO."
Doctors of osteopathic medicine, or DOs, are fully licensed physicians, according to the American Osteopathic Association. They are different from traditional medical doctors in that they are trained to take a holistic approach to patient care.
Many people slammed Figs on social media Tuesday, accusing the company of exhibiting gender bias in the ad.
The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine said in a statement that it was "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," the statement said. "We demand the respect we’ve earned AND a public apology."
Brenna Hohl, a first-year medical student in Lillington, North Carolina, said "the disrespect for female physicians and DOs exhibited in the ad is unforgivable." She said she was offended by it.
"Not only did it offend female DOs, but it is also extremely disrespectful toward any woman working in the healthcare field," she said in an interview.
Marie Thigpen, a neonatologist in North Carolina, said it was "shameful."
"Female doc here," she wrote on the company's Facebook page. "How many execs saw this and no one said a thing? How many in your company thought this would be a good ad? That’s the real problem. You don’t even realize that your ad is trash. Well female docs, nurses and staff have spending power and we will spend elsewhere."
Cara Norvell, a doctor of osteopathic medicine in Dallas, said she hoped the company's founders "will gain access to a book called 'Advertising for Dummies.'”
She said the ad was extraordinarily "ignorant and disrespectful to DOs."
"As an incredibly smart DO not needing 'Medical Terminology for Dummies,'" she wrote on the company's Facebook page, "I also don’t need, 'Where to Spend your Money Earned with your Medical Degree for Dummies.'"
Norvell said she has loyally supported the brand and has raved about Figs "to everyone."
"I’ll be looking elsewhere and making sure everyone is aware what a waste of money purchasing your product would be," she said. "I’ll also be looking out for your sad apology to DOs in the near future."
Laura Kehrberg, a physician in Golden Valley, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, said in an interview that many doctors in Facebook groups she is a part of are "incensed" by the ad.
She said she hoped the company did not try to "brush this under the rug" and think that the backlash would subside "with a small apology" and the ad's removal.
"You’ve pissed off far too many female physicians," she wrote in a Facebook comment. "Only 'dummies' would forget that easily...and I promise you...this group of women isn't that dumb."
Figs was launched in 2013 in Los Angeles by Heather Hasson and Trina Spear. Its apparel is marketed as an alternative to "boxy, scratchy, uncomfortable scrubs."
Figs scrubs tops start at $38 and pants retail for $46 to $56.
"At FIGS we like to say that the highest standards didn't exist, so we created them," Hasson and Spear say on the company's website.