11 January 2024

“There are some double standards here”: FKA Twigs just weighed in on her banned Calvin Klein campaign

UK advertising authorities ruled that the Calvin Klein ad made FKA Twigs into a "stereotypical sexual object", and the singer just took to Instagram to respond.

Mere days ago, the internet was ablaze with himbo love: Jeremy Allen White’s campaign for Calvin Klein had just dropped, and people went absolutely crazy for it. Most pertinent of all, at no point did anyone wonder if the The Bear actor was being made into a “stereotypical sexual object”. The same can’t be said for singer FKA Twigs’ campaign for the iconic fashion label. Featuring the “Cellophane” singer’s naked body partially covered by a denim shirt – which is more clothes than White ever wore – yesterday the advertisement was banned by the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority for depicting Twigs as a “stereotypical sex object”. They described the advert as “irresponsible and likely to cause serious offence”, and decided that the image, which was released in April of last year, “must not appear again”. A whole lot to unpack.

This morning, the singer took to Instagram to express her own thoughts on the ASA’s ruling. She said that didn’t “see the ‘stereotypical sexual object’ that they have labelled me. i see a beautiful strong woman of colour whose incredible body has overcome more pain than you can imagine [sic]”. She also noted that after reviewing other campaigns, she noticed some glaring “double standards”.

Double standards there are a’plenty, and that comes not only via the overwhelmingly positive reaction to White’s campaign, which says a lot about the contrasting meanings we attach to the bodies of men and women. As Twigs hinted at in her statement, it’s likely that her being a woman of colour had a discernible affect on their ruling. When it came to the Calvin Klein campaign featuring model Kendall Jenner – which, like Twigs’ photo, received two complaints –  the ASA in the end deemed them acceptable, saying it was done in a way that didn’t portray her as a sexual object”. We wonder what might have been going on there…

Unfortunately, censoring women’s bodies is by no means a new phenomenon. It’s common knowledge that Instagram has a habit of deeming women’s bodies more inappropriate than mens. And over in Hollywood there’s been a long ol’ history of slapping films featuring women’s bodies or scenes of women receiving sexual pleasure a higher age rating than films where their male counterparts do the same.

The ban of FKA Twigs’ Calvin Klein is born out of the ASA’s fairly new endeavour to crack down on gender stereotyping. The new rules were first introduced four years ago, and around that time the ASA banned ads for Philadelphia cream cheese and Volkswagen following complaints that they’d perpetuated harmful stereotypes about gender. In essence, it sounds promising. But if the ban on FKA Twigs’ campaign tells you anything, it’s that they’re getting a bit muddled, feeding into regressive connotations around women’s bodies rather than doing anything to remedy them.

  • Writer Amber Rawlings
  • Banner Image Credit Suzannah Pettigrew

Related Content