Friday, June 05, 2015

Saint Laurent Ad Starring 'Unhealthily Thin' Model Banned in the UK

Saint Laurent Ad Starring 'Unhealthily Thin' Model Banned in the UK:

Model Kiki Willems in the spring 2015 Saint Laurent campaign. Photo: Hedi Slimane
Model Kiki Willems in the spring 2015 Saint Laurent campaign. Photo: Hedi Slimane
When you think about Hedi Slimane's signature "look" throughout his design and photography careers — dark, rock 'n roll chic that's inspired by youth and rebellion, and an affinity for androgynous, ultra-hip (and ultra thin) models — the campaigns he's shot for Saint Laurent since he became creative director in 2012 are anything but shocking. However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK feels differently about the French label's most recent ad campaign, and following complaints, it has banned images that feature an "unhealthily thin" model in the country.

The ad in question, featuring 18-year-old model Kiki Willems, was brought to the ASA's attention after appearing in an issue of Elle UK. According to the filing, the Saint Laurent campaign became a concern because of the "particular focus to the model’s chest, where her rib cage was visible and appeared prominent," as well as her legs, since "her thighs and knees appeared a similar width." This thinness is emphasized further by her chunky platform shoes, and after consideration of these factors together, the ASA ruled that Willems appears "unhealthily underweight" in the ads, therefore making them irresponsible.

This ruling comes on the heels of a number of international measures to protect models from unhealthy body standards. In April, France banned models under a certain BMI from being cast (following similar bans in Italy and Spain in previous years), and both agents and brands that hire them are subject to fines or jail time. In the U.S., the CFDA's long-running Health Initiative aims to educate models about proper nutrition, as well as about the early signs of eating disorders. But considering that these images are a prime example of Slimane's long-established aesthetic, we don't anticipate him drastically changing his casting choices anytime soon.

Model Kiki Willems in the spring 2015 Saint Laurent campaign. Photo: Hedi Slimane
Model Kiki Willems in the spring 2015 Saint Laurent campaign. Photo: Hedi Slimane
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