UK watchdog bans Max Mara advert over model’s ‘gaunt’ appearance | Advertising

Cecilia Nysing

A Max Mara advert has been banned for featuring a model with an “unhealthily thin” and “gaunt” appearance.

The Advertising Standards Authority, which received three complaints about the ad, said the model had been photographed from the side, drawing attention to the shape of her body and highlighting her very thin frame and the protrusion of her hip bone, which was visible through her dress.

“We also considered that the contrast of the ad’s background lighting, which had a sepia tone, against the black dress further accentuated the silhouette of her frame, and the model’s sombre facial expression and posture gave her a gaunt appearance. We therefore considered that she appeared unhealthily thin,” it said.

The ad appeared in the Sunday Times magazine on 28 February. Photograph: PA

“For those reasons we considered that the model appeared underweight and therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.”

It ruled that the ad must not appear again. “We told Max Mara to ensure that the images in their ads were prepared responsibly,” the watchdog added.

Max Mara said there was “no intention to dwell on the thinness of the model or to promote unrealistic and unhealthy ideals, and there was nothing in the image which suggested the model had an eating disorder or was pathologically underweight, but rather the elegance and style of the clothing was enhanced.”

The Guardian contacted the company but it declined to give further comment.

The advert for the brand’s Sportmax range appeared in the Sunday Times magazine on 28 February. The publication said it received no complaints and it had no comment to make.

It is the first time an advert has been banned for featuring an underweight model since 2018, when the online retailer Nasty Gal featured a swimwear ad with a model with a prominent ribcage. Other adverts featuring thin models, including those for Pink, Zandra Rhodes, Selfridges and Brand Minerals, have been investigated by the ASA but the complaints were not upheld.

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