In a world as hyper-sexualized as ours, it is amazing to think that anything could be risqué enough to be banned. For the last 30 years, advertising has steadily increased our dosage of skin, intimacy and overall sex appeal in everything from food to furniture and all of them have found their inspiration from the biggest industry of them all—the fashion industry.
From make-up, to lingerie to shoes, the fashion industry has become synonymous worldwide
with raising eyebrows and pushing the limits with scantily clad women draped across glistening, bare backed men. And although the United States tends to be more conservative with its advertising (relative in terms of what makes it on the air waves and in magazines and not including brands like American Apparel that intentionally push the limit), the rest of the world, specifically Europe, has shown a wider tolerance for sex in its media. Plus, magazines like Vogue, Elle and Glamour have several international publications, so that if they can’t run a “sexy” ad in the US edition, they can certainly run it in their other volumes.
Last year, YouLookFab, a fashion blog based out of the US, chronicled the popularity of nude advertising in Europe with brands using women’s naked bodies to sell everything from menswear to furniture. Author Angie S. says this “…it [nudity] is on public billboards and prime time TV where everyone can see it. The example that always comes to my mind is an ad I saw when we lived in France. Nivea shows a naked woman frolicking through a pretty pasture enjoying her moisturized skin. It’s all quite normal…”
All of this has been proven pretty consistent within the EU. So why then, did Great Britain go to such great lengths to ban a Dakota Fanning, Marc Jacobs Ad? Was it more than just sex? Did it reflect the pedophilic nature of women in advertising? Perhaps.
According to The Guardian and the Daily Gossip, “…The U.K.’s self-regulatory Advertising Standards Authority believes that the ad is “irresponsible” and “likely to cause serious offense”.
This ban has the blogosphere going crazy; blogs on The Gloss as well as Entertainment Weekly all reported on the Ad, just to name a few.
Over the last few years, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been swooping down on the fashion industry for sexually suggestive advertising and ads that promote unhealthy lifestyle. Earlier this month, they criticized London’s own label “Drop Dead”, calling them “socially irresponsible”, after they featured what appeared to be an unhealthily skinny model wearing a bikini, showing off her collarbone, rib cage and other body parts. The ads were then banned along with Marc Jacobs’.
This brings to the forefront an issue of bigger importance, which is the media’s portrayal of beauty and women. Women are typically the focus of these ads and in an industry so heavily saturated with sex, it’s interesting to see how the government steps in to protect the interests of its citizens. Showing women in childlike advertising is one thing but showing children in hyper-sexual ads is something totally different.
Last year, London’s own Top Shop removed their ads featuring Codie Young, a then 18 year old, size 0 model after several eating disorder support groups raised concern and criticized them for poor social standards.
As stated by the Advertising Standards Authority;
“…while we considered the bikini and denim short images might not cause widespread or serious offence, we concluded they were socially irresponsible.”
Regulation is necessary but at what cost? Is fashion a form of art and if so, why are we restricting it? More importantly, is it necessary?
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