Marks and Spencer has come under fire for a new festive window display that showcases some seasonal sartorial “must-haves” for its customers: for men, a snappy new suit, and for women? Lingerie.
Just the thing to keep you warm through the winter months.
The left side of the display, which includes a suited and booted image of male model David Gandy, is accompanied by the text: “Must-have outfits to impress”. The right side of the display includes a photo of a female model in lingerie, alongside the text: “Must-have fancy little knickers”.
Another window display in the store shows “must-have outfits to impress” for women.
The juxtaposing window display was spotted and shared on the Facebook group Feminist Friends Nottingham. Sian Steans, a member of the group, was less than impressed.
“I felt embarrassed when I saw it,” she told HuffPost UK. “As a feminist and a mother to a young daughter I felt embarrassed that I had to yet again explain why women are depicted with so little respect.
“Nottingham has a long history of championing women’s rights. As the first city on the UK to make misogyny a hate crime, it is disappointing to see a window display that reduces women to their underwear while the male statement is about dressing to impress.”
Steans sent the image to the team behind FiLia, a feminist conference that takes place annually in the UK, who then shared it online, receiving more than 1,000 likes.
“Imagine for a moment if those window displays were reversed. P.S. Who signed this off?” FiLia said on Twitter.
Lisa-Marie Taylor, CEO at FiLiA, told HuffPost UK the display is an example of women and girls being faced with “sexist images that reflect and perpetuate outdated sexist stereotypes”.
“In the era of #MeToo and with the recent case of a woman’s underwear being used against her in a rape trial, it seems a particularly poor choice of window display and wording by Marks and Spencer,” she said.
She pointed out M&S is not the only retailer to use displays such as this and called for change across the industry.
“Patriarchy and capitalism combine to profit from the continued subjugation of women as sex objects,” she said.
Others on Twitter have also called the window display “insulting” and “sexist”.
Some went as far to say they would not shop in the store again after seeing the display.
In a statement given to HuffPost UK in response to the criticism, an M&S spokesperson said: “M&S sells more underwear, in more shapes, sizes and styles, than any other retailer, especially at Christmas. We’ve highlighted one combination in our windows, which are part of a wider campaign that features a large variety of Must-Have Christmas moments, from David Gandy washing up in an M&S suit through to families snuggling up in our matching PJs.”
Clarification: This article has been amended to highlight that the store contains another window display for outfits for women.