Adidas are making waves with a forward-thinking advert for women’s sports bras, in which they unveil 25 very different pairs of women’s breasts in all colours, shapes and sizes to show that all women are being catered for no matter what their body type.
“We believe women’s breasts in all shapes and sizes deserve support and comfort,” they wrote alongside the image, released back in February. “Which is why our new sports bra range contains 43 styles, so everyone can find the right fit for them.”
But this isn’t a celebratory piece about progressive advertising moving away from a sexualised view of women’s bodies to a liberated view of them, but a protest piece against the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who have banned the commercial as being likely to "cause widespread offence".
Apparently, the ASA had received 24 complaints of gratuitous nudity and female objectification. If it were gratuitous nudity, we’d be looking at more than breasts. Meanwhile, female objectification is using bodies to sell products that are nothing to do with the body; frankly, showing the body part on which the product is going on isn’t objectifying anyone, it’s truthful advertising.
There were also concerns that the advert may be seen by children, though the ASA failed to express how it might traumatise, confuse or indeed have any effect whatsoever on our youngsters
“We considered that the image was not suitable for use in untargeted media, particularly where it could be seen by children,” the ASA said in a statement. “We concluded that (the posters) were inappropriately targeted, and were likely to cause widespread offence.”
We can’t be telling women that it’s ok to breastfeed at all ages and in public on one hand, and that it’s not ok for their breasts to be exposed in adverts on the other. The ASA, in this case, is responsible for showing children that breasts are offensive, not Adidas.
It doesn’t seem to matter to the ASA that all underwear adverts for men feature nipples, in spite of the fact that men’s bras are never being advertised. But nude torsos for men is just the right amount of sexy, isn’t it? Nude torsos for women are just far too sexy - even though our breasts are actually biologically functional in a non-sexual context.
In fact, underwear adverts for women regularly photoshop out nipples when they can be seen through sheer fabrics. Why is this not seen as false advertising? Bodies should be shown as they are, nipples and all. It makes no sense why someone would be offended by seeing women’s breasts, when more than half the world’s population see them in person every single day.
“The gallery creative was designed to show just how diverse breasts are, featuring different shapes and sizes that highlight why tailored support is paramount,” Adidas said in their defence.
The ruling comes at a particularly sensitive time for women as the Supreme Court looks to overturn abortion laws that allow women to maintain bodily autonomy especially in situations of rape, incest and medical necessity. If these laws are overturned, women will no longer be allowed to decide what happens to their bodies. Much like the ASA has made a decision that women should be ashamed of their naked bodies and cover them at all costs, so US law will force women to become mothers whether that want or are able to, or not.