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ASA rules on ‘sexually suggestive’ PrettyLittleThing teen ad


The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that Manchester’s PrettyLittleThing, part of the wider Boohoo Group, used “socially irresponsible” images of a 16-year-old model that depicted her in a sexual manner.

The fast fashion etailer highlighted Alabama Barker’s young age on its website while featuring her in a series of sexually suggestive poses and clothing, the ruling said.

The images featured brand ambassador Barker modelling her Y2K Edit clothing collection on the PrettyLittleThing website and app in June. Scenes included the teenager wearing a tight-fitting short dress while sucking a lollipop, wearing high heels and a low-cut short dress that revealed her breasts while spraying a water hose, and posing with her leg bent wearing a mini skirt and knee-high boots.

Accompanying text included: “Channel that teen dream realness with barely-there micro mini skirts,” and “flaunt your curves in a white figure-hugging dress.”

PrettyLittleThing confirmed that Barker was 16 when the ad was made and said it wanted to convey a message of body positivity to encourage and empower young women to embrace their bodies and inspire confidence.

The company said it did not intend to sexualise Barker and disagreed that she was portrayed in a sexual manner, adding that the ad was approved by Barker and she was posed in a similar style to images on her own Instagram account.

The ASA countered that a number of Barker’s poses and text references were likely to be considered as sexual and highlighted the fact that the use of the term “teen dream” was intended to emphasise the model’s age. The watchdog ruled that the ad must no longer appear in its current form.

It added: “We told PrettyLittleThing to ensure future ads did not include images that portrayed anyone who was, or seemed to be, under 18 in a sexual manner.”




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