Selfridges ad of 'thin' model cleared by watchdog

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Selfridges adImage source, PA
Image caption,
The Advertising Standards Authority concluded the model did not appear to be "significantly underweight"

A fashion advert for Selfridges has been cleared by the advertising watchdog following a complaint the model in it looked "unhealthily thin".

A promotional email from the department store in January showed a model standing side on in a long blue dress.

It prompted a reader to complain the woman was too thin and question whether the advert was socially irresponsible.

But the Advertising Standards Authority concluded the model did not appear to be "significantly underweight".

Selfridges said the woman was not positioned in a way that was intended to exaggerate her slimness.

The company said that while they 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 Advertising Standards Authority 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."

'Unobtainable' body type

Selfridges welcomed the ruling but disputed the email was an advert, describing it instead as a "fashion image sent to selected customers by email".

Denise Hatton, chief executive of the National Council of YMCAs, a founding partner of Be Real, which campaigns to change attitudes to body image, said: "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."