Nicole Kidman has attracted criticism from a flight attendants’ union following her appearance in an advert for an airline it claims treats female employees “deplorably” and operates using “discriminatory labour practices”.
In particular, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants highlighted the actress’s role as a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women, which she has held since 2006, as being in direct opposition to the policies it alleges Etihad Airlines and the United Arab Emirates, which owns the airline, hold towards women in its care.
In an open letter urging the actress to cease her promotional contract with the brand, APFA president Laura Glading writes: "The United Arab Emirates and their airlines are well-known in our industry for their discriminatory labour practices and deplorable treatment of female employees.
"We saw that you had begun appearing in a new campaign for Etihad, a company that the Wall Street Journal has publicly reported 'may fire women if they become pregnant' and forces flight attendants to live in 'confinement' in secure compounds.
The Most Controversial Fashion Adverts
The Most Controversial Fashion Adverts
1/9 YSL, 2000
The infamous Yves Saint Laurent Opium perfume advert featuring a naked Sophie Dahl was removed from billboards as it was deemed "sexually suggestive and unsuitable to be seen by children", although was allowed to run in certain fashion magazines. It is the eighth most complained about advert, receiving 948 complaints.
2/9 Agent Provocateur, 2001
The lingerie ad saw Kylie Minogue writhe on a rodeo bull and was only permitted to be shown in cinemas. The campaign was banned from all UK television channels, except BBC1.
3/9 Wonderbra, 1994
Eva Herzigova's Wonderbra campaign was thought to have caused car accidents, such was its provocative appeal.
4/9 Dolce & Gabbana, 2007
The label's 2007 advert was banned in Spain after it was thought to "glorify rape". Designer Stefano Gabbana stated that the image was intended to show “an erotic dream, a sexual game”.
5/9 Miu Miu, 2011
Miu Miu's campaign starring Hailee Steinfeld, sitting crying on a train track, was banned in Britain, after it was decided that the image depicted a child in an unsafe location.
6/9 Marc Jacobs, 2009
Dakota Fanning was 17 when Juergen Teller shot her for Marc Jacobs. The picture was thought to "sexualise children" and was banned.
7/9 Tom Ford, 2007
A not-so-subtle message from Tom Ford, photographed by Terry Richardson. The campaign was banned in several countries.
Shot by the controversial photography Terry Richardson, this advert made a play on the word 'fashion junkie'.
9/9 Calvin Klein, 1995
Calvin Klein are known for a string of controversial campaigns (including a picture of 17-year-old Kate Moss straddling Mark Wahlberg), but this 1995 image shot by Steven Meisel provoked negative response from child welfare authorities and the consequently brand withdrew it.
“We urge you, on behalf of the women and girls that you spoke of so eloquently [on International Women's Day], not to play a part in promoting Etihad Airways, a company that imposes abusive labour practices on its female employees and whose sole owner is a government that stands against the very world that you imagine,” she continued.
Etihad has since responded to the allegations made in the letter.
"At Etihad Airways, we have become a global, award-winning employer because we value our employees and we treat them with dignity and respect," a statement from the airline read.
It went on to claim that pregnant employees are allowed to continue working on the ground, with maternity leave packages In place for those who have been with the company for at least a year.
"The airline industry is a symbol of human ingenuity and of determination to make the world a better place by connecting cultures, families and businesses. As a truly global airline, Etihad Airways represents the very best of that vision. At Etihad Airways, we have become a global, award-winning employer because we value our employees and we treat them with dignity and respect. As a result, they give us their very best; the same employee survey confirmed this when 92% of employees responded that they were willing to go beyond normal requirements in order to help Etihad succeed.
"This sort of employee motivation doesn’t just happen; it is a result of a very structured and deliberate strategy by Etihad as an employer genuinely committed to looking after its people. It is very clear that without Open Skies, our employees and consumers would have few choices but those airlines in the oligopoly of immunized alliances that dominate the global industry and seek to reduce the competitive landscape."
Kidman is yet to respond to request for comment.