Britain’s Advertising Watchdog Tells Not to Objectify Women

BOOHOO BAN: Boohoo has fallen foul of Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority after a single person complained to the independent watchdog about a series of images featuring a female model wearing an oversize T-shirt, and not much else.

The images, which appeared last November on the brand’s website, showed a model wearing the shirt with thong bikini bottoms and sneakers. One showed the model, from behind, kneeling; another pictured her sitting on the ground with her legs apart. In the third one she was lifting up the T-shirt as if to remove it, and showing her torso.

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According to the ASA, the person who complained “believed that the images objectified and sexualized women,” and argued that the ad was offensive, harmful and irresponsible.

The ASA described two of the images as “sexually suggestive” and said the third put the emphasis on exposed skin rather than the product.

“We also noted that neither the partial nudity nor the bikini bottoms were relevant to the product and that the images did not show the product as it would usually be worn. For those reasons, we concluded that the ad objectified and sexualized women. It was therefore irresponsible and likely to cause serious offense.”

The ASA said the ad must not appear again in its current form, and asked Boohoo to ensure that future ads are “prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society, and do not cause serious or widespread offense or harm by objectifying women.”

Boohoo had argued that the images were part of its swimwear category, and that the model was wearing the T-shirt over a bikini. It said the way it presents its garments “reflects the diversity of women in society” and the Boohoo consumer base.

Boohoo also removed the images after the complaint was lodged, and before the ASA ruling.

On Wednesday Boohoo said it was “disappointed by the findings of this ruling because we pride ourselves in our inclusive, body positive imagery.

“Our marketing reflects the vibrant and confident culture of our brand and is designed to empower, not to intentionally cause offense.”

The company noted that it “immediately removed the associated images from its website” after receiving details of the complaint from the ASA.

A few weeks ago, Boohoo introduced a new social-driven campaign #boohoofilterfree, which aims to eradicate filter abuse and reduce comparison culture.

Boohoo said it believes the use of filters and face-altering apps have damaging effects on young people’s self-esteem and, with a lack of policing by social media apps, “filter abuse” in communities has become the norm.

Under the new campaign, influencers and customers are being encouraged to post across their social channels “filter free” using the Instagram story effect available on Boohoo’s profile (@boohoo) to spread awareness about negative self-image and comparison culture.

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