The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently deemed this American Apparel ad "offensive and irresponsible" and banned it from the U.K. after receiving complaints that it appears to sexualize a child. Rather than understanding that the notoriously stodgy ASA nixes ads for dubious reasons left and right, like that time they called Hailee Steinfeld's Miu Miu ad "socially irresponsible" because it showed her sitting on train tracks, American Apparel has contested the ruling with a number of points that are guaranteed to fall on deaf ears.
First off, the model is well over 18 — she was 23 when the photo was taken in 2011 — but the ASA has never cared how old the model actually is if she looks young. An American Apparel rep pressed on:
It’s unfortunate that the ASA has made this ruling as our models are of age and were featured in Vice magazine, a publication clearly intended for mature, fashion-forward audiences. We’ll abide by this ruling as we have in the past with similar ASA decisions, but American Apparel will not be altering our classic advertising aesthetic which is internationally recognized for its artistic and social values.
How "mature" Vice readers are is certainly debatable, but anyway, so there, ASA! You can stop this ad, but you can't dampen American Apparel's precious little spirit. (And thanks, as always, for giving American Apparel much more attention than they ever would have gotten from the ad alone.) Finally, American Apparel's director of marketing concluded their argument by telling WWD that the model, Becca, "continues to be the longtime girlfriend of the photographer [Henrik Purienne]." Which actually makes the image creepier than it ever was to begin with.