Magazine Fashion Shot Banned for Being 'Unhealthy'- For Once.
Magazine Fashion Shot Banned for Being 'Unhealthy'- For Once.UK glossy magazine Elle and fashion giant Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) have had their wrists collectively tapped by American Advertising authorities for releasing a promotional image of an “unhealthily underweight” model clad in the designer’s clothes. The picture in question shows a woman lain rather awkwardly on a carpeted floor with an uncomfortably visible ribcage and worryingly thin legs. The picture has since been pulled by YSL after complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA),who ruled that the picture was “irresponsible”. If you look at the image for yourself, it isn’t hard to agree with them.
As pointed out by the ASA, the shot has seemingly been staged to emphasise the thinness of this woman’s frame: her chest (and therefore the bones under it) is pushed forward and her hips are positioned in a way that angles her legs far apart from each other. The ASA are completely right to judge this irresponsible- the photo is deliberately flaunting the woman’s gaunt frame. Whilst the ban on using this photo again is certainly a good thing (I for one am not keen on stumbling across it any time soon) it is extremely worrying to see how disturbingly unhealthy a person has to look in a picture before the relevant authorities take notice.
This is not the only fashion image ever taken using a woman who is underweight. This is just an instance where YSL became so far removed from the reality of female bodies that they didn’t even notice an unhealthy one. Women all around the world are shown prominent clavicles, spindly limbs and thigh gaps (seriously why is that a thing) in their fashion, music, film, TV and more every single day, and being told that those (often very unhealthy) things are inspirational. That last sentence will surprise none of you because you are all fully aware of it, but it needs repeating. If we were to ever get a media that reflected all of us, the ASA would probably need to judge over a few more YSL photos unfit for publication.
It also interests me that the ASA made little reference to the underlying sense of violence in the picture. In the photograph, the model is being shot from above, lying on the floor. The aforementioned bizarre hip angles, along with emphasising the thinness of her legs, also make the woman appear somewhat broken. Her body is awkward, almost as if she had fallen. When considered along with the dominant angle of the camera, it almost feels as though we’re looking at a sadistic shot taken of a person who has just crumpled to the ground. To me, it feels as though the camera is asking us to stare at a woman in discomfort and possibly even pain. Not only are we being shown a hugely harmful idea of a woman, but we are also being shown a woman with her power diminished. Would it have been so difficult for YSL to showcase their clothing on a woman shot straight on, wearing a smile on her face, or even- shock horror- enjoying herself?
In short, this picture demonstrates just quite how much is wrong with the ideals of womanhood in the eyes of the media-powerful. It is sad to see how far away their thoughts are from considering showcasing the whole range of female beauty, and how unhealthy they ask us to be instead. It’s also sad that their images must be so frequently implicitly humiliating to women as well. But what we can take heart from is that at least this ad set off enough alarm bells to be removed. We can only hope that this encourages fashion houses, as well as fashion publications, to actually stop perpetuating damaging ideals and instead open their eyes to the real world. They really should- it’s filled with beautiful women.
Words by Sarah Vickery.