ASA refuses to make a meal out of thin Selfridges model

selfridgesWhen is a skinny model not too skinny? It is a question which has vexed the ad watchdog for years but it seems Selfridges has finally found an answer after managing to swerve a complaint that a model it used in an email marketing campaign looked “unhealthily thin”.
In response to the complaint the Advertising Standards Authority launched an investigation, but Selfridges insisted the woman was not positioned in a way that was intended to exaggerate her slimness.
The company said that while it accepted the model was thin, the general public’s perception of weight and whether or not an individual looked unhealthily thin was a subjective matter.
The ASA said the image emphasised the model’s slenderness through her pose and the style of clothing, but said she appeared to be in proportion.
“We considered most people, including young children and women, would interpret the ad as focusing on the design and fit of the dress, rather than on desirable body image,” it said. “We considered that, although the model was slim, she did not appear to be unhealthily thin or significantly underweight and therefore concluded the ad was not irresponsible.”
Denise Hatton, chief executive of the National Council of YMCAs, a founding partner of Be Real, which campaigns to change attitudes to body image, told the BBC: “We’ve seen positive advances in the fashion industry over the last few years, including from Selfridges themselves, which shows that there is a shift towards more responsible advertising and portraying of diversity.
“However, the recent advert is another example where a slim body is still favoured over others, despite the fact that it doesn’t reflect the majority of customers. Idealising a body type that’s unobtainable for most people can lead to unhealthy methods of weight loss.”

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