‘Double standards’: FKA twigs defends banned half-nude Calvin Klein ad

'Double standards': FKA twigs defends banned half-nude Calvin Klein ad

FKA Twigs has defended the Calvin Klein ad she featured in which was banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) earlier this week.

The poster advertisement featured the singer wearing a shirt over her half-naked body. After two complaints from the public, the ASA said the ad framed her as a “stereotypical sex object” and that “the composition of the image focused viewers’ attention on the model’s body rather than the advertised clothing”. Calvin Klein defended the pose in the ad as “natural and neutral” and said the ad campaign “has a progressive and enlightened message”.

FKA Twigs responded to the ban with a statement on Instagram:

I don’t look like the ‘stereotypical sex object’ they label me as. I see a beautiful strong woman of color whose incredible body has overcome more pain than you can imagine.

Reviewing other campaigns past and present of this nature, I can’t help but think there are some double standards here. To be clear…

I am proud of my physicality and hold the art I create from my character to the standards of women like Josephine Baker, Eartha Kitt, and Grace Jones who broke down barriers to empowerment and harnessed a uniquely embodied sensuality. Thanks to CK and [cinematographers] Mert and Markus, who gave me the space to express myself – I will not have my narrative changed.

Her reference to “other campaigns past and present” likely includes the high-profile current men’s Calvin Klein underwear campaign fronted by US actor Jeremy Allen White. The ads, which feature the muscular white in just a pair of boxer briefs, have garnered attention on social media and beyond since debuting last week. An enthusiastic New Yorker essay described the photoshoot – which showed more skin than Twigs’ image – as a “time stamp of our own historical moment, a time of indulgent pleasures and desires”.

FKA twigs’ references to overcoming pain include surgery in 2017 to remove six fibroid tumors from her uterus. After surgery, she described the tumor as “the size of two apples, three kiwis and two strawberries. A fruit bowl of pain every day … I tried to be brave but sometimes it was excruciating and to be honest I began to doubt whether my body would ever feel the same way again … My confidence as a woman was shaken”.

Two complainants about the FKA twigs ad also objected to a pair of Calvin Klein ads featuring model Kendall Jenner, but the ASA did not ban them, arguing that one did not over-sexualize her and the other featured underwear ads.

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