By Jessica Frost
Calvin Klein is no stranger to a little controversy surrounding their iconic underwear advertising campaigns. They’ve once again found themselves under fire for a recent campaign featuring US model Lulu Tenney that was displayed in the windows of British department store, House of Fraser. The problem with the campaign? The models baby face.
The ad began to face criticism not long after being hung in the windows with customers and passers-by claiming it was “inappropriate” because both the models face and body resemble that of a young, innocent and under-age girl. Concerned customer Rachel Ashby, told ‘The Daily Mail’ “While I realise it is likely she is probably of legal age to appear, the fact that she looks underage in terms of body shape and somewhat vulnerable facial expression combined with the fact that she is wearing very little and is adopting a strangely provocative pose means it could be deemed to sexualise children.” After receiving the complaint, House of Fraser removed the ad from its windows.
The legal age for models to model underwear in the UK is 18 and the crazy thing about this story is that Lulu is in fact of age. She’s a rising favourite of the American label and has featured both on the runway and in print ads for them. It’s easy to see when looking at her that her fresh and youthful look have garnered her success and she fits the profile of a Calvin Klein girl nicely.
It begs the question though, is it really fair to criticise the campaign because the model looks younger than she is? It’s not an overtly sexual ad, particularly compared to other work featured by the brand. Just last year, model Bella Hadid featured in a number of Calvin Klein ads at a similar age to Lulu that some would argue are more provocative and suggestive than Lulu’s picture and no-one seemed to mind then.
With society constantly chasing their youth, it’s ironic how much shock there is about fashion choosing a youthful vibe to sell their brands. The sexualisation of an image such as the one in question really comes down to the audience and their choice to perceive it one way or another. It’s hard to blame the brand for their choices when the model is of age and isn’t really overtly pushing her sex appeal through the lens.
Should a baby face really be seen as being “suggestive” and “inappropriate” or are people just being too sensitive? Apparently, the jury’s still out.