H&M under fire for using model so thin she's been called 'corpse-like' for launch of Marni collection
12:00 GMT, 10 March 2012
High Street store H&M has come under fire today for its use of a model some have said is so thin as to be 'corpse-like'.
The model was used in PR material for the clothing giant's Marni campaign, the latest high profile designer collaboration to be launched by the firm.
But some have complained that 26-year-old Aymeline Valade looks 'ready to collapse'.
Corpse-like H&M has been attacked for using French model, Aymeline Valade, 26, in their Marni press material, with observers suggesting the model is 'too thin'
In the photographs, Aymeline wears a three-quarter-length sleeve jacket and pencil skirt which highlight her slender wrists and waist.
Some observers have criticised the
choice of styling and make up for the model, saying that her pale
complexion, hollowed cheeks, dark eyes and unkempt hair make her look yet more unhealthy.
GP Julian Spinks told the Daily Star:
This model looks very unwell, almost corpse-like. Her skin is grey, you
can see prominent veins in her hands and she has huge eye bags.
'I find it incredible that a fashion
store like H&M, which appeals to young people, is using an image
which encourages them to be unhealthy.'
'H&M has an advertising policy in
which we strongly distance ourselves from alcohol and drug abuse, and we
do not work with models who are significantly underweight'
One mother, 41-year-old Maria Rowntree from West London,
said she would be reluctant to take her teenage daughter to a store that felt it was reasonable to use such a thin model.
She said: 'My 15-year-old loves to
shop at H&M and I always feel the experience is a bit of fun for her
and her friends, especially when big designers collaborate making
expensive labels more affordable.
'But after seeing the disturbingly thin girl used to model the Marni collection, I would think twice about
encouraging her to go there. What kind of standards are they setting to
teenagers when they say it's attractive to look that gaunt
'It's bad enough with fashion
magazines pushing an unhealthy and unrealistic image of beauty. I
would have expected more from H&M.'
When approached on the matter, H&M defended their position, saying that they do not work with 'significantly underweight' models. They told MailOnline today: 'We appreciate feedback from our customers on how we conduct our business. We think it is regrettable that some of our customers interpret our Marni at H&M PR images as unethical, and feel that the model is underweight.
'H&M has an advertising policy in which we strongly distance ourselves from alcohol and drug abuse, and we do not work with models who are significantly underweight.
'The models are always chosen in consultation with representatives from H&M and established modelling agencies who are made aware of, and agree to, H&M’s advertising policy. For this particular Marni at H&M look book shoot we felt that Aymeline Valade would portray the collection in an inspiring way.
'We are aware that many of the models used in images today are petite or thin, and that this is something that is occurring in the industry we operate in. We are committed to not using models who could be considered significantly underweight, and we are looking into how we can take additional steps within our industry.
Again, we regret that the images have been perceived as unethical which has not been our intention, and we will take these comments into consideration for future press and marketing images.'
Cleared: Nine complaints were received by the ASA when this H&M advert was aired last November, but none was upheld
It is not the first time the brand
has found itself in hot water regarding its use of slim models.
Most recently, they were investigated for – and
cleared of – the accusation that they were promoting an unrealistic body image with a TV ad that aired in November last year, which featured a model posing in a
jacket and high heels.
The ASA reported at the time
that nine complainants called the advert 'offensive and harmful', saying that the woman looked
'unhealthily thin' and could give an unrealistic idea of a desirable
body image to younger viewers.
In response, H&M said that their
policy included 'not working with models that are significantly
underweight,' and that it would take the complaints into consideration
for future advertising.
For their part, the Advertising Standards Authority said it 'welcomed' H&M’s assurance.
They concluded that while the model was slim and wore an outfit that emphasised the length and slimness of her legs, the ad was typical of those used for fashion products and that the model did not appear to be too thin for her frame, nor did she look unhealthy or emaciated.
They said that most viewers, including young children and women, would interpret the ad as promoting the design of the clothing rather than a desirable body image.
'We also considered viewers were unlikely to interpret the ad as
encouraging unhealthy eating habits in vulnerable people, in an attempt
to look like the model,' they said.
Given that the Marni image was never intended to be used as an advert, or to be made public on billboards or in magazines – it was a PR material used by H&M to illustrate the collection to the fashion press – the ASA has not received any complaints about the Marni model.
Any complaints they do receive would have to be dismissed as being out of their remit.