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Scrubs brand FIGS comes under fire for ‘insensitive’ ad featuring female physician

FIGS, a medical apparel company known for its fashionable scrubs, has come under fire for an “insensitive” video that portrayed female doctors of osteopathic medicine as “dummies.”



a person holding a sign: A medical worker walks past a sign that reads "Express Care."


© Spencer Platt/Getty Images, File
A medical worker walks past a sign that reads “Express Care.”

In the marketing materials, a woman wearing a set of pink scrubs and a name tag with the abbreviation DO, for doctor of osteopathic medicine, is holding a “Medical Terminology for Dummies” book upside down. Many in the medical community criticized the since-removed ad as misogynistic and disrespectful toward female physicians and DOs.

“We are outraged that in 2020, women physicians and doctors of osteopathic medicine are still attacked in thoughtless and ignorant marketing campaigns,” the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine said in a statement. “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.”

The organization Physicians for Patient Protection said it was “dismayed” by the Los Angeles-based company’s marketing.

“Our DO colleagues are highly trained physicians, many of whom hold leadership positions in academia and have authored medical texts themselves,” the organization said in a statement to ABC News. “Many of our DO colleagues are also women. And they may wear pink scrubs, but they’ve never needed to read any textbook made ‘for dummies.'”

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FIGS apologized for the video on Tuesday, saying it had “dropped the ball.”

“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 tweeted Tuesday. “FIGS is a female-founded company whose only mission is to make you guys feel awesome.”

Dr. Stephanie Markle, DO, MPH, an ICU doctor and surgeon in Kalamazoo, Michigan, told ABC News that the “blatantly misogynistic” ad has angered many in the medical community. Markle said the ad is particularly harmful as someone who experiences sexism and has to “constantly validate” herself as a female physician.

“I have to explain to people multiple times: I’m not the nurse, I’m not the dietitian, I’m not the janitor,” she said.

Female doctors also tend to make less than men, she noted. Male primary care physicians make about 25% more than their female counterparts, according to Medscape. Among specialists, they make 31% more, it found.

“The sexism is still so prevalent that this was such a slap to the face,” Markle said.

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DOs are fully licensed physicians who take a more holistic approach to medicine, compared to medical doctors. Dr. Miranda Rosenberg, MD, a resident in the ABC News Medical Unit, said the ad was particularly insensitive “especially after so many doctors have sacrificed so much