An advert for fast fashion brand Pretty Little Thing has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for portraying a child – Travis Barker‘s 16-year-old daughter, Alabama Barker – in a “sexual way”.
In the advert, Alabama can be seen wearing a number of low-cut, hot pink outfits and in one shot the 16-year-old is sucking a lollipop. Another photo shows the teen holding a hose pipe whilst wearing a dress and knee-high boots.
“Channel that teen dream realness with barely-there micro mini skirts,” said text on one of the advert’s images. “Nail the latest trends and team a cropped varsity jacket with a mini skirt and knee-high boots for a date with your best dolls or flaunt your curves in a white figure-hugging dress,” read another.
But the advert wasn’t online long before complaints rolled in, with many people questioning whether it had breached rules that prohibit the sexualisation of under-18s. In response, the ASA said the advert had been banned due to being “in breach of our rules which state that ads must not portray or represent anyone who is, or seems to be, under 18 in a sexual way.”
The ASA said the advert had “revealed her breasts” noting that another image from the campaign showed Alabama wearing a “tight-fitting short dress whilst sucking a lollipop.” Because of this, the ASA branded the advert “socially irresponsible” and “likely to cause harm and offence.”
In light of the backlash, Pretty Little Thing said they had chosen Alabama as the model for their campaign as she reflects their average customer who is typically aged between 16 and 24. The fast fashion giant also claimed they wanted to put forward a message of body confidence to “encourage and empower young women to embrace their bodies and inspire confidence.”
The brand disagreed that they had portrayed the teen in a sexual way and said they “did not intend” to sexualise Barker. PLT added that the images were approved by Alabama and her team, pointing out that similar photos were posted to her own social media accounts.
Despite this, the advertising watchdog maintained that the advert had breached its rules. “Given the above, we considered that the ad depicted a person who was under 18 in a sexual way, and we therefore concluded it was irresponsible and breached the code.”
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