THE BEFORE PICTURE: The original image that ran on the Urban Outfitters UK website selling the polka dot mesh briefs. Photo: UrbanOutfitters.com
Meghan Trainor approves of it. Beyoncé has been accused of retouching it. But now, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a regulation organization that oversees media in the United Kingdom, is banning it. The touchy thigh gap strikes controversy (and conversation) once again.
Urban Outfitters, the retail chain that has been accused of manifesting continuous contention intentionally, has been ordered by the ASA to remove a "harmful" image on their UK website of a woman's torso with a considerably exaggerated thigh gap. The ASA claims that such an image is not only "irresponsible" with its unnatural proportions but that it could also fuel and promote anorexia.
The issue started with an anonymous source filing a complaint against the advertisement to the ASA, who has since ruled in favor of that charge, ordering the retailer to immediately remove the image, along with producing more responsible imagery in the future. Failure to comply, the ASA warned, could potentially result in Urban Outfitters being banned from appearing in Internet search results.
Urban Outfitters has since removed the image and replaced it with a more realistic one, though there are still plenty of thigh gaps in their other images — though they do not fall under this protest specifically. The judgment said: "The complainant, who believed that the model in the picture was unhealthily thin, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and harmful."
THE AFTER PICTURE: After the ruling from the ASA, Urban Outfitters replaced the offending image with this more realistic one. Photo: UrbanOutfitters.com
The ASA also acknowledged that "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."
Related: Instagram Calls Out Retouching Fails
Urban Outfitters, however, fired back and told the Daily Mail that their model in that particular picture is "represented by one of the UK’s most successful and well-respected agencies. We do not believe she was underweight." (While throwing in her waist measurement of 23.5 inches, as a sign of being healthy.)
European advertising perimeters differ from those in the United States. Just last year, some cosmetic ads came under scrutiny after they were perceived to be deceptive with all its retouching. Advocates even called for unrealistic images such as these to run with a disclaimer. Now, it seems, fashion companies are the next target — and that's fine for the UK Minister for Women and Equalities, Jo Swinson, who has campaigned on the issue of body confidence. In a statement in response to the ASA's ruling, she wholeheartedly publicly declared her support for industry's transformation. "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. "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."
OK, US, your turn.