The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an Urban Outfitters ad for featuring a too-skinny model. The ASA calls the ad "irresponsible and harmful," as it potentially fuels anorexia. Specifically, the ASA called out the significant "thigh gap" in the picture.
The ad is for a pair of polka dot women's underwear on Urban Outfitters' British website. An anonymous source filed a complaint about the ad to the ASA that the model was "unhealthily thin." The ASA then ruled in favor of the filed complaint. It said in a statement, "We considered that the model was very thin, and noted, in particular, that there was a significant gap between the model’s thighs, and that her thighs and knees were a similar width." The statement also addressed the audience of the UO shopper — likely a vulnerable teen who could be easily influenced by an unrealistic body image.
‘We understood that Urban Outfitters’ target market was young people and considered that using a noticeably underweight model was likely to impress upon that audience that the image was representative of the people who might wear Urban Outfitters’ clothing, and as being something to aspire to. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible."
UO denies that the model used in this particular ad is underweight, noting her waist measured at 23.5 inches and was naturally quite thin.
Jo Swinson, Minister for Women and Equalities, praised the ASA's decision. "Retailers will benefit from having a diverse range of models and mannequins which is not only a positive way of challenging low body confidence but makes good business sense too," she said in a statement. "Given the worrying rates of eating disorders especially among young people, I applaud the Advertising Standards Authority for encouraging positive body image, and for taking steps to ensure that retailers comply with this. I hope that Urban Outfitters remove these images, and that other retailers take note of these unacceptable images."
The retailer did remove the ad by its December 31 deadline, replacing it with the image shown to the right of the original. But, similar photos for other briefs exist, like for these metallic hipster briefs and this satin thong. Urban Outfitters has not yet been ordered to remove these photos. (Daily Mail)