Ad Banned For Promoting “Irresponsible” Thinness

Yesterday, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a Gucci advertisement featuring a “gaunt” model, calling one image “irresponsible.”

And it’s a big deal.

While the ad ran back in December – and one could argue that the damage of this particular image has likely already been done since ads rarely run for longer than a couple of months – the precedent set here could be major.

First, this shows how much power we, as consumers, have – and that’s pretty damn cool because it means that we can change this.

We can vote (with our wallets and our complaints) to change the standard of beauty.

And it can work.

In fact, this recently announced ban all came about from a user-generated complaint! Apparently, the online campaign for Gucci’s Cruise 2016 collection appeared on The Times’ website, prompting a complaint from a reader, which led to an investigation by the ASA. And, fast-forward a couple of months, this ad is now banned!

Second, brands may be more incentivized to promote realistic and healthy portrayals of beauty in order to avoid costly rulings such as these, causing the industry to change!

Sure, this ad has already negatively impacted its viewers – and this isn’t the first time an ad has been banned for portraying unhealthy body ideals (an Yves Saint Laurent image of a model with “very thin’ legs” and “visible rib cage” was banned last year and in May 2015 a Miu Miu ad featuring a sexualized model who appeared to be a child was banned by the ASA) – but that doesn’t mean that these rulings are without cumulative consequence.

Or at least we can hope so!

That all said, we’d be remiss not to address what some opponents of this ruling have said: namely that the unnatural thinness depicted in the image could be less about the size of the model (Gucci itself claims that the model had “slim build,” and that the brand didn’t think she was “unhealthy”) and could, instead, be due to the camera angle, lighting, makeup, etc.

And it’s true that’s possible (and we are by no means blaming the model here for doing her job in a f’ed up system).

But that doesn’t change the fact that the finished product depicts an unrealistic and unhealthy body ideal – and that images such as these need to stop.

So, no, we’re not blaming the model. But we are blaming the people that approved the ad.

Because what we see shapes our reality and we need to be shown more responsible and healthier images of beauty.

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