Yves Saint Laurent ad banned for using 'unhealthily underweight' model
Advertising Standards Authority’s ruling criticises YSL’s use of female model with ‘very thin’ legs and ‘visible rib cage’, calling fashion advert ‘irresponsible’
Wednesday 3 June 2015 00.01 BST / http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jun/03/yves-saint-laurent-ad-ban-underweight-model
An advert by the fashion company Yves Saint Laurent has been banned by the UK’s advertising watchdog for using a model who appeared to be unhealthily underweight.
Upholding a complaint that the model looked too thin, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) censured the advert, which appeared in Elle magazine, as irresponsible.
In its ruling, published on Wednesday, it said: “The ASA considered that the model’s pose and the particular lighting effect in the ad drew particular focus to the model’s chest, where her rib cage was visible and appeared prominent, and to her legs, where her thighs and knees appeared a similar width, and which looked very thin, particularly in light of her positioning and the contrast between the narrowness of her legs and her platform shoes.
“We therefore considered that the model appeared unhealthily underweight in the image and concluded that the ad was irresponsible.”
It said YSL indicated that it did not agree that the model in the advert for Saint Laurent Paris was unhealthily thin but did not provide a detailed response.
The use of skinny models has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, with critics claiming that it damages the body confidence of women and girls by promoting unrealistic and unhealthy ideals.
A petition started by an LA-based blogger urging YSL to stop using “painfully thin models” in its advertisements collected just under 50,000 signatures last year. Despite the spotlight on the fashion industry, the YSL advert is one of only a handful that have been banned by the ASA for featuring models who look too thin.
In 2011, the watchdog banned an online advert for the clothing brand Drop Dead, for using a size-8 girl in a bikini with “highly visible” hip, rib and collar bones.
Last year, Urban Outfitters was ordered to remove a photo from its website showing the lower half of a young woman’s body, with the ASA noting that “there was a significant gap between the model’s thighs, and that her thighs and knees were a similar width”.
Responding to the ruling, Jo Swinson, co-founder of the Campaign for Body Confidence said: “Where images are irresponsible, it’s right that the ASA takes action. It’s better for girls to channel the spirit of [Sport England campaign] ‘This Girl Can’ to focus on their body feeling great through exercise, than feeling pressure to have a thigh gap.”
The ASA found the advertisement breached section 1.3 of the Committee of Advertising Practice code, which states: “Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.”
YSL and Elle declined to comment on the ruling