A website for Onfancy, www.onfancy.co.uk, an online clothing retailer seen on 1 November 2023, featured a product listing for a child’s swimsuit. Four images in the ad showed a female child model wearing a one-shoulder swimsuit with a cut out feature on one side at the waist. All the images were cropped to show the model’s face from the mouth downwards and were cut off at thigh level. In three of the images the model’s arm was raised to touch her hair. One image showed the front view of the model with one leg slightly raised. The other three images showed the model in a standing pose viewed from the front, side and back respectively.
The complainant, who believed that the ad portrayed the child model in a sexualised way, challenged whether it was irresponsible and breached the Code.
Grandbing Technology Ltd t/a Onfancy did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Onfancy’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We considered that the model in the ad appeared to be between seven and ten years of age and was definitely under the age of 18.The ad showed images of the model wearing a swimsuit. In the two front view images, the outline of her genitalia appeared to be visible under the swimsuit. We considered that, while that styling may not have been intentional, it was inappropriate and had the effect of sexualising the young model.
The images were cropped so that the model’s face was visible only from the mouth downwards. We considered that this anonymised the model and focused the reader’s attention on her body. In the context of an ad for a child’s swimsuit where clothing was limited and tight-fitting, we considered such an approach also had the effect of sexualising the model. In three of the images her arm was raised to touch her hair. In one of the front view images her leg was raised and in the other her legs were slightly apart. In three of the images her head was tilted to the side and she was touching her hair, While not overtly sexual, we considered that the poses had a seductive tone and were quite adult for a model who was clearly under 18. The model also appeared to be wearing red lip gloss, which, emphasised and drew attention to her lips. In the image taken from behind, we considered that the model’s bottom and legs were the main focus and that also had the effect of sexualising her. We considered that those elements in combination had the effect of portraying the model in a sexualised way.
Because we considered that the ad depicted a person who appeared to be under the age of 18 in a sexual way, we concluded that it was irresponsible and breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 4.8 (Harm and offence).
We told Grandbing Technology Ltd t/a Onfancy to ensure that in future their ads did not portray someone who appeared to be under 18 years of age in a sexualised way. We referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance team.