The British Advertising Authority has put a ban on placing “sexualized imagery” near schools and nurseries, saying in a statement that it wants to protect children from having to see “inappropriate or harmful” material — and from having their sexuality commercialized at a young age.
So what qualifies as damaging to children? The Daily Record reports that women in bikinis and men not wearing shirts are OK, so long as they don’t look lustful — but “fully-clothed couples in a ‘passionate clinch’” may be subject to the ban. Same goes for images of people touching their underwear, parting their legs, touching their breasts or exhibiting a facial expression that might communicate sexual pleasure.
If any of those elements are present in your advertising (we’re talking to you, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Domenico Dolce, Stefano Gabbana, Michael Kors, and basically everyone else in the business of selling designer clothing), they need to be at least 100 feet away from anywhere children might go to learn something. Because lord knows kids can’t look out a classroom window and see a billboard of David and Victoria Beckham in flagrante delicto.
Still, the ASA stands buy its decision, saying:
We are signalling a tightening of our approach in light of new evidence we have received from the public on what is acceptable in terms of sexual imagery on posters, and also in response to a Government commissioned report into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, the Bailey Review. We will, as we have when judging such matters in the past, be looking to reflect the opinions of society and generally accepted standards.
We say if society really wants to protect its kids from getting damaged, keeping their eyes away from imagery they might be too young to understand is a good place to start. But eventually, kids grow up — and that means at some point, someone’s going to have to explain just what’s going on in those ads.