Popular scrubs company FIGS generates backlash from women in medicine and DOs after insensitive video

A now-deleted video, seen above, shared by scrubs company FIGS offended women in medicine and doctors of osteopathic medicine who said it misrepresented women health care professionals and DOs alike.

(CNN)A popular scrubs company offended DOs and women in medicine alike with a video that appeared to mock doctors of osteopathic medicine, or DOs, and women health care professionals.

FIGS, a scrubs start-up, apologized for the video and pledged to donate $100,000 to the American Osteopathic Association, an organization for DOs, after the video generated backlash among Twitter's vibrant medical community.
In the now-deleted video, which was meant to show how one of its pairs of women's scrub pants looked in action, a bespectacled model played a DO and pretended to scan through the book "Medical Terminology for Dummies," which she held upside down.
On Twitter, a handful of women health care professionals and DOs quickly criticized the video's contents and FIGS for producing it.
    Brenna Hohl, a first-year medical student from North Carolina, told CNN she found the ad disrespectful, particularly as health care workers face the brunt of coronavirus exposure.
    "In the midst of a pandemic, we should be supporting and building up our health care workers, not bringing them down like this," she said.
    She tweeted a response to the video, in which she said "the disrespect for female physicians and DOs exhibited in this ad ... is unforgivable.
    After addressing the video briefly in two now-deleted tweets, FIGS co-founders Heather Hasson and Trina Spear apologized for publishing the video, which they said was "offensive" and "particularly disparaging" to women in medicine and DOs.
    "Our mission at FIGS has always been to empower medical professionals," the co-founders said in a statement to CNN. "Beyond a lapse in judgment, the bottom line is -- our processes at FIGS failed. We are fixing that now. It will never happen again."

    Some women in medicine say video was harmful

    FIGS largely caters to young women in the medical profession (though it sells men's scrubs, too) and is popular among medical students who often serve as brand ambassadors. The company touts its line as the comfortable and fashionable alternative to the "boxy, scratchy, uncomfortable" scrubs of yore.
    But some women in health care said they are turned off by the brand after the video.
    Dr. Agnieszka Solberg, a radiologist and internal medicine physician in Bismark, North Dakota, has called for a boycott of the brand for its depiction of women and DOs.
    "The 'silly and dumb, but sexy' look in ads and other media contributes to harmful gender stereotypes," she told CNN. "When girls see this, they start feeling like this is what is 'cool,' and start yearning to be like this."
    In a tweet, Solberg criticized the brand for portraying DOs as less competent than MDs, or doctors of medicine.
    The American Osteopathic Association says there's a harmful stigma toward DOs, who make up 11% of the physician workforce. Both DOs and MDs are trained physicians who are licensed by the same accrediting body. (The main difference is that DOs receive additional training in "whole-body" techniques, as holistic physicians.)
    YouTube influencer and family physician Dr. Mike Varshavski encouraged medical students to stop wearing scrubs from the brand.
    "They're willing to put women down; they're willing to put DOs down to make more money," the DO said in a recent video. "If they truly cared, there would be checks and balances in place to prevent this."
    Some also came to the brand's defense.
    Dr. Michelle Nguyen Maneevese, a vascular and interventional radiologist and FIGS ambassador, called the video a "mistake" but encouraged her followers to hold FIGS accountable.
    View this post on Instagram

    ⁣ If I was judged on a single mistake, then my career would have ended as a 3rd year medical student when labs weren't updated before rounds and I didn't have the newest creatinine. ⁣ ⁣ I'm an "emotional" learner. If I experience an intense emotion I will remember it always. Making a mistake, even minor, hurts me to my core. Every single patient I treat like I would my own family. Because of that it hurts so badly that I immediately vow never to make the same mistake, make changes in my behavior, and create foolproof checks so they cannot physically happen again. ⁣ ⁣ As physicians we work on patterns and not single isolated events. I'm grateful my attendings saw the pattern of Michelle the young doctor. They saw the dedication, passion, the LOVE for her patients day in and day out. Those traits have NEVER wavered even once from hour 1 of call to hour 28. Even if I didn't know the updated creatinine that one time, that didn't make me the shittiest doctor ever and I should be canceled and no one should see me as their patient again. ⁣ ⁣ Ya feel me? ⁣ ⁣ Because if the world decided to cancel 3rd year medical student Michelle... ⁣ ⁣ This full fledged interventional radiologist would not be standing before you today. ⁣ - A fierce supporter of women in a field that is LESS THAN 8% FEMALE. ⁣ - A global health advocate who has spent 90% of vacations while in training on making a small impact on the world⁣ - A certified yoga instructor and wellness consultant helping other physicians find their balance ⁣ - An IR doc with microcather skills that would make you say WHOA (#humble😂) ⁣ every mistake I've made has led me to be the outstanding physician I am today. ⁣ ⁣ I couldn't have done a quarter of what I set out to achieve without @wearfigs ⁣ ⁣ Yes, hold them accountable as we should with our colleagues. I understand the hurt, outrage, and disappointment and I wholeheartedly respect all of the reactions to the video but please, give them the chance to learn and grow. Watch them closely, I promise you from this point forward they will ALWAYS have the updated creatinine. ⁣ ⁣ PS this is the longest post I will ever write. Will return to one liners⁣ ⁣

    A post shared by Michelle Nguyen Maneevese, MD (@mmaneevese) on

    "If I was judged on a single mistake, then my career would have ended as a 3rd year medical student when labs weren't updated before rounds and I didn't have the newest creatinine," she wrote in an impassioned Instagram post. "Watch [FIGS] closely, I promise you from this point forward they will ALWAYS have the updated creatinine."⁣

    FIGS vows to improve

    News of the brand's commitment to change softened critics slightly. In a statement to CNN, Dr. Kevin Klauer, a DO and CEO of the American Osteopathic Association, said that while he was "appalled" by the "ill-conceived" clip, he was working with FIGS to right its wrongs.
    FIGS also will hire health care consultants to assist with future product shoots, according to Hasson and Spear.
    Hohl called it a "step in the right direction" but said there's more that could be done -- namely, featuring "a wider range of health care practitioners," rather than mainly doctors and nurses, in their ads.
    In response to the brand's apology, many doctors of osteopathic medicine and medical students who were openly critical of the brand later said they were glad to see the brand take responsibility.
      Dr. Sunnie Kim, gastrointestinal medical oncologist at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, called it a "great response" on Twitter, adding "hope we can all get to a better place with gender equality and continue to debunk outdated stereotypes."
      However, many said they won't accept an apology without action -- noting that they plan to monitor to see whether the company continues to improve.