Urban Outfitters has been forced to remove a photo of a skinny model wearing lingerie on its UK website after it was deemed “irresponsible and harmful” by advertising regulators.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received a complaint about the photo, which was advertising a pair of polka-dot bikini briefs, according to reports. The complainant claimed the model was “unhealthily thin”, according to the ASA’s ruling.
The ASA agreed and noted that there was a “significant gap” between the model’s thighs, and that her thighs and knees were “a similar width”.
In the December 31 ruling, the agency told Urban Outfitters that the ad must not appear again in its current form.
“We considered that the model looked underweight in the picture,” said the agency.
"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.”
Responding to the complaint, Urban Outfitters stated it used a number of agencies to provide models for its ads, and the model in question was represented by "one of the UK’s most successful and well-respected agencies".
“[Urban Oufitters] did not believe she was underweight and provided a copy of her agency profile, other photographs of the model and a list of clients for whom she had posed,” the ASA said in its ruling.
“They stated that her waist size was 23.5 inches, and provided documentation from outerwear brands showing they provided clothing for that waist size. They added that it was common practice to use slim models in the underwear industry, but they did not consider that the model was underweight or unhealthily thin; they considered she had a naturally tall and slim physique.”