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HomeLife StyleWatchdog now reverses ruling that Calvin Klein advert objectified FKA twigs

Watchdog now reverses ruling that Calvin Klein advert objectified FKA twigs

The advertising watchdog has reversed its ruling that a Calvin Klein poster presented British musician FKA twigs as a “stereotypical sexual object”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had decided to revisit its original decision in January that the poster was likely to cause serious harm or offence by objectifying FKA twigs “out of concern that our rationale for banning the ad was substantially flawed”.

The poster featured the artist wearing a denim shirt that was drawn halfway around her body, leaving the side of her buttocks and half of one breast exposed, with text reading: “Calvins or nothing.”

The ASA received two complaints that the images were “overly sexualised”, offensive and irresponsible because they objectified women and were inappropriately displayed.

Following the ruling, FKA twigs, whose real name is Tahliah Debrett Barnett, challenged the complaints in an Instagram post and thanked Calvin Klein for giving her the “space to express myself exactly how I wanted to”.

Alongside a picture of the poster, she wrote: “I do not see the ‘stereotypical sexual object’ that they have labelled me.

“I see a beautiful strong woman of colour whose incredible body has overcome more pain than you can imagine.”

Calvin Klein also defended the ad, describing FKA twigs as a “confident and empowered woman” who had collaborated with the brand to produce the image and approved it before publication.

Announcing it had reviewed and changed its decision, the ASA said: “In our previous ruling we judged that, because the ad used nudity and centred on her physical features rather than the clothing she was wearing, it presented FKA twigs as a stereotypical sexual object.

“After careful thought, our council, the independent jury that decides whether UK ads break the rules, considers that the image was not sexually explicit, that the ad presented FKA twigs as confident and in control and, therefore, that she had not been objectified.”

It added that the council had, however, maintained its decision that the image was overtly sexual and was therefore not suitable for display in an untargeted medium, meaning that ban remained in place on that point.

The ASA continued: “The decision to revisit our original ruling took place in the context of the significant strength of public feeling, including views expressed by FKA twigs, in response to our findings, but was driven by our concern that our rationale for banning the ad was substantially flawed.

“We wanted to examine whether we had used inconsistent wording and if we had made the right judgment about objectification in the ad.

“Our republished ruling is final.”


The ASA did not ban two posters from the same campaign featuring model Kendall Jenner following complaints on the same grounds, finding that they did not focus on her body in a manner that portrayed her as a sexual object and the level of nudity was not beyond that which people would expect for a lingerie ad.

Following the original ruling, the ASA’s director of complaints and investigations, Miles Lockwood, said the watchdog found itself “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” in such situations, saying: “This is a clunking great big poster on the street in an untargeted medium. Children are seeing it alongside adults, and sometimes that gets missed.”

Mr Lockwood said the decision to ban the ad was made by the ASA’s council of 12 members, “two-thirds who are not from an advertising background, and a range of genders, ages, backgrounds and ethnicities”.

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