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Ban on FKA twigs’ Calvin Klein advert reversed by ASA due to ‘strength of public feeling’

The Advertising Standards Authority has now said "the image was not sexually explicit".

FKA Twigs attends The Fashion Awards 2023 Presented by Pandora at the Royal Albert Hall on December 04, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has backed down on its decision to ban a Calvin Klein advertisement featuring FKA twigs, explaining that the “strength of public feeling” had swayed their decision.

The singer called out “double standards” when the advert – which showed her in a denim shirt that revealed part of her breast and the side of her buttocks – was banned back in January.

The ASA had originally said the ad presented her as a “stereotypical sexual object”, but has now reneged on that ruling.

Instead, after “careful thought” it has decided that “the image was not sexually explicit, that the ad presented FKA twigs as confident and in control and, therefore, that she had not been objectified”.

In a statement at the time of the original decision, the ASA said: “We considered the image’s composition placed viewers’ focus on the model’s body rather than on the clothing being advertised,” the ruling said. “The ad used nudity and centred on FKA Twigs physical features rather than the clothing, to the extent that it presented her as a stereotypical sexual object.”

 “I do not 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,” twigs wrote on Instagram at the time.

“In light of reviewing other campaigns past and current of this nature, I can’t help but feel there are some double standards here. so to be clear… I am proud of my physicality and hold the art i create with my vessel to the standards of women like Josephine Baker, Eartha Kitt and Grace Jones who broke down barriers of what it looks like to be empowered and harness a unique embodied sensuality. thank you to CK and Mert and Marcus who gave me a space to express myself exactly how I wanted to – I will not have my narrative changed.”

Others also pointed at a recent Calvin Klein advert which featured Jeremy Allen White, star of The Bear, posing topless. In contrast, that advert received little backlash.

“I feel like FKA twigs has a point about the double standards in the ban of her Calvin Klein ad, given that the Jeremy Allen White ad has the go ahead. Let’s face it, nobody is actually looking at the clothes in either!” wrote one Twitter user.