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Advertising regulator to take “firm hand” on irresponsible fashion and beauty images

Gaelle Walker
11 March 2021

The UK’s advertising watchdog has vowed to continue taking a “firm hand” on irresponsible depictions of body image in the beauty and fashion industry in the wake of International Women’s Day on 8 March.

International Women’s Day had acted as “a renewed call for action to progress gender equality,” the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said.

Issuing refreshed guidance today, the ASA called on marketers to ensure that adverts steered clear "of gratuitous nudity and sexualised imagery, particularly where this was irrelevant to the product being advertised, for example, “using a partial image of a woman’s naked body to advertise toothpaste.”

Whilst featuring a degree of nudity in ads for products such as lingerie or swimwear “may be acceptable,” the nudity should not be gratuitous “or overtly sexual, as this “could invite views to view the women as sexual objects,” the ASA said.

Advertisers should also ensure that models were never presented in a way that made them appear underweight or unhealthy, "as this could be considered irresponsible for promoting an unhealthy body image."

Marketers should “think carefully" about whether certain poses made models “look particularly thin” and “consider how the clothing, make-up and lighting have an impact on the appearance of the model,” the ASA said.

Gender stereotyping should also be avoided - with ads that depicted stereotypical roles or characteristics likely to be problematic, it added.

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