American Apparel gets another ad banned by advertising watchdog for sexualising children

ASA ruled that the ad of a young-looking model in a thong bodysuit must be taken down from its website and must not appear again in its current form

American Apparel is never far from a headline with its adverts and controversial founder Dov Charney, but for the second time in six months watchdogs have banned one of its ads as it "could be seen to sexualise a child."

The American clothing retailer used four images of a female model to promote the retailer’s Lips Print thong bodysuit, one showing the model from the back with her buttocks visible.

But more than the suggestive pose and revealing imagery, what concerns the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) the most is the fact that the model looks under 16 years of age.

It said: “We considered the model had a youthful appearance and that some consumers were likely to regard her as being younger than 16 years of age.”

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Dov Charney, the founder and former CEO of American Apparel

American Apparel, however, denied this by confirming the model was 20 years old and that the ad depicted the bodysuit from various angles and the image of the thong component was consistent with the standards contained in similar campaigns.

But still, the retailer has been asked to withdraw the image of the young-looking model in the thong bodysuit. “The model was shown looking back at the camera over her shoulder with her buttocks visible. We considered that readers were likely to interpret the model’s expression and pose as being sexual in nature,” ASA said.

It went on: “In conjunction with the youthful appearance of the model, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.”

The ban followed a complaint to ASA, which called the brand “irresponsible and offensive” for having “sexualised a model” who appeared underage.

Although the ad is still available on the retailer’s website this morning, ASA ruled that it must not appear again in its current form, adding: “We told American Apparel to ensure future ads did not include images that inappropriately sexualised young women or were likely to cause serious offence.”

This is the American chain’s second ban. Back in September ASA banned the retailers “Back to School” campaign which showed an image of a young woman bending over a car in a mini tartan skirt, exposing her white underwear. The retailer was accused of using “underage porn” to sell clothes. It noted that it was not possible to determine the age of the model because her face was not visible.

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American Apparel's 'back to school' campaign

In better news for the brand, American Apparel appointed a new CEO Paula Schneider in January this year to replace founder Dov Charney who was fired in December. She revealed plans to tone down the brand’s sexualised imagery, telling Bloomberg: “It doesn’t have to be overtly sexual. There’s a way to tell our story where it’s not offensive.” But she failed to do so. 

American Apparel will continue to be known for its controversial advertising.

Read more: American Apparel's new CEO set to tone down the brand's sexualised imagery

American Apparel’s most controversial moments following ban on Back To School ad

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