Should Dakota Fanning’s Marc Jacobs Ad Have Been Banned?
Dakota Fanning’s ad for Marc Jacobs’ perfume Oh, Lola! has been banned in the UK. But should it have been?
The girl is blonde. She wears a gauzy, pale pink, polka dotted dress. The dress’s neckline is not low-cut, but its hem just hits thigh-length. Perched atop the girl’s legs is a pink bottle with an enormous flower blossoming from its top. And throughout all this, the girl gazes at the camera, looking like she knows something you don’t know.
The girl of course, is Dakota Fanning, and the image is the magazine ad for Marc Jacobs’ new perfume, Oh, Lola!—the ad which was recently banned in the UK by the watchdogs of the British Advertising Standards Authority.
According to the ASA, four readers had challenged the ad, targeting it as offensive and irresponsible for portraying Dakota, who is 17, in a sexualized manner. After some thought, the ASA ruled as follows: “We understood the model was 17 years old but we considered she looked under the age of 16. We considered the length of her dress, her leg, and the position of the perfume bottle drew attention to her sexuality. Because of that, along with her appearance, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualize a child.”
So here’s the big question: Does the ad actually deserve to be banned?
Coty UK, the company that makes the perfume, countered the ASA by saying that they hadn’t received any complaints about the ad , as well as that they didn’t think it suggested Dakota was underage. They went on to say that they didn’t think the ad was “inappropriately sexualized” because it didn’t actually show any “private body parts or sexual activity.” Finally, the giant perfume bottle, they said, was “provoking but not indecent.” Okay. Maybe I’ll buy it.
But then there’s the fact that according to the Telegraph, Marc Jacobs has described Oh, Lola!—a sister scent to his enormously popular Lola fragrance—as “More of a Lolita than a Lola.” The reference, of course, is Nabokov’s novel. Long story short: It’s a little difficult to reconcile an “it’s not sexual!” message with a Lolita reference.
Of course, though, it’s also interesting when Dakota’s Marc Jacobs ad is held up against, say, Ali Lohan’s recent modeling shots in which she wears a fencing breast guard and not much else:
Or Chloe Moretz’s Harper’s Bazaar spread recreating a scene from Taxi Driver, in which she takes on Jodie Foster’s preteen prostitute character:
Ali is 17 and Chloe is 14. And though there has been much discussion of Ali Lohan’s modeling career—especially with regards to her extreme and unhealthy weight loss—there hasn’t been any banning there, even though I might argue that both of those images are more overtly sexual than Dakota’s.
I don’t know, Bettys. At the end of the day, I can see how the Oh, Lola! ad could be considered overly sexual; but at the same time, it also kind of isn’t—at least, not when held up against some of the other high fashion shoots going on with other underage stars. Not that ANY inappropriate sexualization of kids is okay, but… I don’t know. Is this an issue of freedom of expression being squashed? Or is it a victory for the protection of children? What do you think, Bettys?
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor.