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Another American Apparel ad has been banned for sexualising children

It’s the second time in six months the fashion label has fallen foul of UK authorities.

A cropped version of an American Apparel ad for the bodysuit
A cropped version of an American Apparel ad for the bodysuit

AN AD FOR controversial fashion chain American Apparel has fallen foul of the UK advertising watchdog for potentially sexualising children.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned an image which appeared on the company’s UK website for a “lips print cotton spandex sleeveless thong bodysuit”.

It had received a complaint that one of the ads showed a model from behind with her “buttocks visible” that was “irresponsible and offensive”.

The complainant said it showed a sexualised image of a female who looked like she was under 16 years old.

In response, American Apparel said the model was actually 20 and the ad showed the advertised product “from various angles and included an image of the thong component of the bodysuit”.

The company said it thought the image was consistent with standards for similar ads.

Super Bowl South Beach A woman dances in the window display of an American Apparel store in Florida Source: AP Photo/Carlo Allegri

But the ASA banned the ad after finding the model had a “youthful appearance” and some viewers would probably think she was under 16.

“We considered that readers were likely to interpret the model’s expression and pose as being sexual in nature,” it said.

In conjunction with the youthful appearance of the model, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child.  We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.”

It wasn’t clear whether the ad had been taken down this morning as images of two different models wearing the same item were still on the label’s UK website.

A history of controversy

The US company has repeatedly come under fire for its advertising tactics, which have included it accidentally using an image of the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster.

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Last year it fired its own founder, Dov Charney, after he was accused of sexually harassing several employees.

American Apparel Ousted CEO Charney in 2003 Source: AP Photo/Reed Saxon, Fil

It has repeatedly been criticised for using young women in overtly sexual poses for its ad campaigns, although it has also won plaudits for challenging fashion-industry norms through tactics like featuring over-6o underwear models and mannequins with pubic hair.

The latest ASA ruling follows a similar decision in the UK only six months ago over the company’s “back-to-school” range.

It found some of the images mimicked voyeuristic “upskirt” shots of schoolgirls.

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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