A magazine advert for fashion brand Max Mara has been banned and branded “irresponsible” by the advertising watchdog for featuring a model who appeared to be “unhealthily thin”, following complaints from readers.
The advert for Sportmax, a subsidiary label of Max Mara, was published in The Sunday Times Style magazine on 28 February and featured a female model wearing a long-sleeved ankle-length black dress with boots.
Three readers complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the ad was irresponsible as they believed the model was unhealthily thin.
Max Mara said it did not agree with the complaints and that the model was well-known and chosen for her specific beauty and “extraordinary aspect”.
The brand also said she took part in fashion shows in Paris where models who were underweight had not been allowed on the runway since 2017.
Max Mara provided two other images of the same model which they said showed she was healthy and of a normal appearance.
They said the image that received the complaints communicated a particular style and clothing choice but had nothing to do with food choices and denied it would lead people to serious eating disorders.
The ASA said the model was photographed from the side, which drew attention to the shape of her body. The watchdog noted the image “highlighted her very thin frame and the protrusion of her hip bone which was visible through the fabric”.
“We also considered that the contrast of the advert’s background lighting, which had a sepia tone, against the black dress, further accentuated the silhouette of her frame and the model’s sombre facial expression and posture gave her a gaunt appearance,” added the ASA in its ruling.
“We therefore considered that she appeared unhealthily thin. For those reasons we considered that the model appeared underweight and therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.”
The ASA ruled the ad must not appear again, and said: “We told Max Mara to ensure that the images in their ads were prepared responsibly.”
The Sunday Times Style magazine declined to comment and said it would await the outcome of the ASA’s investigation. It confirmed it had received no complaints about the ad.
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