A product listing on Warehouse’s website, www.warehousefashion.com, seen on 5 February 2023, for an oversized longline biker jacket featured an image of a model wearing the jacket over a black high cut bodysuit. The jacket was draped off her left shoulder and her legs were fully exposed. The model was posing with her left leg bent out to the side.
IssueThe complainant, who believed the featured model appeared unhealthily thin, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible.
ResponseWarehouse Fashions Online Ltd (Warehouse) believed that the image did not present the model as appearing unhealthily thin. They said that the model wore a UK size 8 and that, because she had a BMI which fell within the NHS standard of a “healthy weight”, it would be wrong to suggest that the image presented her in an irresponsible manner. Although they noted the concerns raised by the complainant, they did not consider using a naturally thin model in advertising to be socially irresponsible. They believed that, due to prevailing standards in society around the perception of body types, it would be insensitive to label the model as promoting an “unhealthy” and “thin” body type.Warehouse also said that they promoted body inclusivity and that they worked closely with model agencies to select models who represent women of all body types across the UK. They said that models were styled in a manner which positively reflected their body shape and that they carefully selected imagery which represented both their products and models in the best possible way. Warehouse said that they recognised the importance of how bodies were presented in ads and that edits to images were limited to lighting and background adjustments.
The ASA acknowledged that much of the model’s arms and part of her body were obscured by a coat. However, her shoulder and upper arm were visible and appeared small and narrow. She was wearing a close-fitting bodysuit, also partially hidden by the coat, but her collar bone and torso nonetheless appeared very thin.
Her right leg was partially hidden by the coat and could not be seen in full, but we considered that the model’s pose and styling gave this leg, particularly her knee and thigh, the appearance of being very narrow. Although her left thigh was shown in full and positioned at a different angle, we considered that this pose made the indent in her hip bone appear particularly pronounced. We therefore considered that both her legs were shown in a manner which made the model appear unhealthily thin. We considered that the pose and styling of her legs emphasised her slimness in a manner which made her appear unhealthily thin.
Because the pose and styling emphasised the model’s narrow leg, pronounced hip and collarbones, we considered the ad gave the impression that the model was unhealthily thin and concluded the ad was irresponsible.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 (Responsible advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Warehouse Fashions Online Ltd to ensure that the images in their ads were prepared responsibly and did not portray models as being unhealthily thin.