Jessica Carvalho explores the controversy of the Babyboo advert, and the objectification of women in fashion advertising
Though we find ourselves in the awkward mid-year period between the previous and next Halloween, Babyboo Fashion has found itself badly timed altogether. The brand, one of Australia’s largest online fashion retailers, had one of its Instagram Halloween adverts pulled by the social media platform itself after a user forwarded a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Posted in October, the ad featured multiple women in lingerie, animal ears, and angel wings, coupled with a voiceover saying: “Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total bleep and no other girls can say anything about it. The hardcore girls just wear lingerie and some form of animal ears.”.
The original complaint perceived the advert as “sexist, objectifying and gave a harmful message [to young women]”, and in result, the ASA deemed the advert demeaning to women. It recognised the “bleep censor was to obscure the word slut”, but it was obvious to other viewers what it stood for. The ASA also stated it was made clear to Babyboo Fashion that any advertised content was to be of a “socially responsible nature” that did not present “gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm in their future advertisement”. When approached by the ASA with an inquiry in relation to the advert, Babyboo Fashion did not respond.
Occurrences like this are a harsh reminder that women are still faced with the sexualisation and objectification of their existence, even by a brand claiming their goal is to “empower women”. Whilst brands aim to showcase their products in the most attractive, appealing manner, the line between allure and objectification is easily blurred; for example, unprompted nudity when it has no relation to the product or the brand, the offence made even more grave when using younger models. Overall, the objectification of women in advertising is comparable to an overdone Halloween outfit – it’s time to get rid of it, and do better.