Medical Influencers Up In Arms After ‘Insensitive’ Figs Ad
Ads for Figs, a trendy brand of medical scrubs, are all over subways, podcast episodes, and Instagram. But it was a video on their website that ignited the ire of the medical community this week. In the now-deleted ad, a woman wearing a “DO” tag—which stands for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine—walks into frame reading an upside-down book titled “Medical Terminology for Dummies.”
If there was a right way to interpret the ad, it’s hard to know what it was. Seen as both a slight to DOs and female doctors, the ad was met with intense backlash, prompting the company to issue an apology on social media. But that didn’t exactly smooth things over, and now medical influencers—many of whom are Ambassadors for Figs—find themselves in a tough spot.
Influential voices in the medical community like Dr. Mike Varshavski have come out strongly against the ad, which he says on Twitter got him blocked by the company.
Figs Ambassadors—influencers who work with the company—have also felt compelled to speak out now that they’re unwittingly associated with the offending video.
“I'm a Figs Ambassador. But before that, I am an Asian American, a woman, a mother, and a doctor,” Peggy Ji, an emergency doctor with over 18,000 followers on Instagram, wrote in a caption this week before condemning the ad.
“Stop coming for the ambassadors,” Tara Caitlin of @TheSaltyPremed wrote to her 35,000 followers on Instagram Stories. “We had no part in this and are holding them accountable and demanding change.”
Some other influencers have been more forgiving of the company. Vicki Chan, an ophthalmologist with over 14,000 Instagram followers, made a TikTok video pointing out that Figs also posted an identical ad that featured a male DO.
And Cassie Majestic, an ER doctor with 116,000 followers, emphasized this as a teaching moment.
“I feel really sad that there were so many people feeling so terrible from this,” she says in an Instagram story posted Wednesday. “But nothing good ever comes out of angry responses.”
Ultimately, the snafu appears to not have lost the company the support of their ambassadors.
“Am I still proud to represent Figs?” Erica Wigdor, an internal medicine physician with 76,000 followers, posted on Instagram. “Yes.”