Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has a reputation for cracking down on campaigns that are otherwise seen as, well, fairly innocuous. Maybe our country’s lack of a similar bureaucratic process has desensitized us to what is and isn’t acceptable for widespread, billboarded consumption (see: anything ever released by the ironically-named American Apparel), or maybe English people are just tightasses. Who knows! Either way, lingerie ads featuring scantily-clad women are pretty commonplace and decidedly inoffensive. They’re trying to sell lingerie, which you wear beneath your clothes, so chances are good that you’re not going to find many turtlenecks on any given woman in any given lingerie shoot. Especially not Victoria’s Secret stunner Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, whose ads promoting her collaborative line with British retailer Marks & Spencer were evaluated by the ASA recently following complaints that the photographs in question were “overtly sexual, explicit, degrading to women and reinforced sexual stereotypes of women.”
In a shocking (!) twist, the watchdog agency actually opted not to pull Rosie’s ads under the circumstances, deeming it “acceptable for advertisers of lingerie to show their products modeled in ads, provided they did so responsibly.” In addition, the ASA went on to acknowledge that the line was designed by a woman for women, “as opposed to being designed for the titillation of men.” Hmmmm. I see what you did there. But honestly, if they were going to force this ad to be dropped, they might as well pull every other lingerie ad ever. I can’t see what makes this one any different — or what makes it in any way degrading to women. That’s a pretty lofty accusation.