LIFESTYLE
02/06/2015 20:00 BST | Updated 03/06/2015 07:59 BST

Yves Saint Laurent Advert Showing 'Unhealthily Thin' Model Banned For Being 'Irresponsible'

An advertisement for fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent has been banned for featuring a model who has been described as "unhealthily underweight".

The ad, which appeared in Elle UK magazine, featured a black and white photo of a woman whose rib cage is clearly visible. Meanwhile her knees and thighs are of a similar width.

ysl advert

The advertisement was flagged up after a reader of Elle Magazine complained that it was irresponsible for using a model who appeared to be unhealthily thin.

The woman, who has been described by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as "unhealthily underweight", is pictured wearing a short black dress and high heels while lying on the floor with her eyes closed.

The ASA said YSL "indicated that they did not agree with the complainant's view that the model was unhealthily thin", but did not provide a detailed response.

Elle UK told the watchdog it had no comment to make on the complaint.

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The ASA said the model's pose and the lighting drew particular focus to her chest, where her rib cage was visible and appeared prominent, and to her legs, where her thighs and knees appeared a similar width.

It said: "We therefore considered that the model appeared unhealthily underweight in the image and concluded that the ad was irresponsible."

It ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form, adding: "We told the advertisers to ensure that the images in their ads were prepared responsibly."

Earlier this year, a campaign for the YSL perfume Black Opium was cleared by the ASA following complaints that it glamorised and trivialised drug use and addiction.

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A spokesperson for eating disorder charity Beat, told HuffPost UK Lifestyle: "The constant portrayal of a very slender look as the only aspirational ideal for young people needs to be challenged if a generation are to grow up with a robust sense of their self worth.

"The ASA ruling is not about whether this person in the picture is healthy, but whether the images of her are being used in a way that can have an irresponsible effect on others and we are really pleased to see that they are taking action to uphold their responsibility for the social impact of adverts, as well as judging whether they are legal, decent, honest and truthful."

Samantha Arditti, who heads up the Be Real Campaign, the UK’s national movement for body confidence, said: “This is a prime example of advertisers selecting models based on the outdated premise that the only way to sell products is by presenting an idealised view of the female body – in this case showing a model who is so thin that she is deemed unhealthily underweight.

"Be Real is not about promoting one body type at the expense of another, however we are once again presented with an ‘aspirational ideal’ that is unattainable for the majority of people.

"We know that around 95% of the population can never realistically attain the current body ideals being portrayed by many media and advertisers."

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She added that "the pressure of feeling as though we need to live up to unachievable expectations not only causes low body confidence but often leads to unhealthy life choices and extreme approaches to weight loss".

"A fifth of adults admit to skipping meals to try and lose weight and more than one in 10 have considered cosmetic interventions to change the way they look.

"Many of us feel too ashamed or embarrassed to even try to improve our health - a third of us don’t exercise because of the way we look. How can we expect to feel confident about our bodies if we rarely see them reflected back at us?"

Meanwhile, YSL declined to comment on the ruling.

Samantha Arditti believes that advertisers and publishers should now focus on using a diverse range of models to reflect "what we really look like".

"We can then feel more confident about who we are, which in turn will not only lead to a healthier attitude to our bodies but a society that values health above appearance."