Boohoo advert ‘objectified and sexualised women’

An advert by Manchester fashion firm Boohoo Group plc promoting an oversized T-shirt has been banned from its website because it “objectified and sexualised women.”

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled: “The ad must not appear again in its current form.

“We told Boohoo.com UK Ltd to ensure that future ads were prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society and that they did not cause serious or widespread offence or harm by objectifying women.”

The ASA said two images in the ad showed a model wearing the T-shirt with only thong-style bikini bottoms and trainers.

“One was a rear view that showed her kneeling, the other showed her sitting on the ground with her legs apart,” said the ASA.

“Another image was an upper-body shot that showed the model lifting the T-shirt as if to remove it and exposing the skin on her stomach and side …

“The complainant, who believed that the images objectified and sexualised women, challenged whether the ad was offensive, harmful and irresponsible …

“Boohoo.com UK Ltd said the images were part of their swimwear category and explained that the model was wearing the T-shirt with a bikini.

“As a brand they often combined a variety of products in their images to show how items could be worn in different ways.

“They said that the way they presented their garments reflected the diversity of women in society and their customer base.

“Boohoo said that they understood the importance of the issues raised and had removed the images from their website …

“The ASA understood that although it had been presented as part of the swimwear category, the advertised product was an oversized T-shirt and the product listing appeared as a result of searches for T-shirts or tops.

“In one of the images, the model was shown from the rear in a kneeling position and we noted that the T-shirt was folded under so that the bikini bottoms and the model’s buttocks and naked legs were visible and prominent.

“We considered that the image emphasised the model’s buttocks and legs rather than the product and that she was posed in a sexually suggestive way from behind, with her hand appearing to be tucked into the bikini bottoms at the front.

“In another image the model was sitting with her legs spread apart so that the focus was on her crotch and we considered that pose was also sexually suggestive, taking into account that she was wearing the T-shirt folded under again and with only the bikini bottoms on her lower half.

“In a third image, the model was wearing the T-shirt with trousers over the bikini bottoms.

“However, she was seen lifting the T-shirt to expose her stomach and side and we considered the emphasis of that image was also her exposed skin rather than the product.

“We also noted that neither the partial nudity nor the bikini bottoms were relevant to the product and that the images did not show the product as it would usually be worn.

“For those reasons, we concluded that the ad objectified and sexualised women. It was therefore irresponsible and likely to cause serious offence.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.