Scouting For Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret

Sky is starting a documentary series today about the fashion industry and the treatment of models called “Scouting For Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret“.

Sky News did a story about this programme earlier this week.

It is no big surprise that following all the stories on the treatment of women in the entertainment world that there wasn’t going to be similar stories from the world of fashion.

The women might not get any justice in legal terms but at least we get to hear their side of the story. Hopefully this will prevent others in the future having similar experiences.

27 June 2022 PBS recently uploaded to YouTube their documentary on Harvey Weinstein that was first broadcast in March 2018.

After watching this and the first episode of Scouting For Girls: Fashion’s Darkest Secret, my main thought is how both industries took their time to do something about what was going on. Question is have these industries cleaned up their act? My gut feeling is that there is more to do.

National Geographic

Before lockdown in March 2020, I saw this book “Women: The National Geographic Image Collection” in a Waterstones bookshop and vowed to get it another day. Two years later that day has come and I now have the book in my hands.

First impression of this book is how US centric it is. To give you an example, there is no mention of other countries having the vote for women. Which surprised me, as I was under the impression that National Geographic was about reporting from around the world. Instead it is from the perspective of America being center (sic) stage.

This book does not hide the fact that the publication is as a result of the #MeToo campaign. Not the 2006 campaign by Tarana Burke but following the events surrounding Harvey Weinstein. I can’t help feeling that no matter how you dress this up there is a strong smell of band wagon jumping with this book.

I really wanted to be inspired by the contents of this book but wasn’t. I’m wondering if this book hasn’t aged well since it was printed in 2019. Or if I had higher hopes with this archive.

Let me put it this way, if you are a landscape photographer and you follow the advice of the sign put up in a beauty spot in where to take a picture, yes it might be a perfectly acceptable image but there is definitely a deeper story to the location. There is more to the story about women from around the world than this book does justice to.

It is sad to see the changes in Afghanistan. And what is happening with Roe v. Wade in the US. If this book is a celebration of women it does feel like one step forward and three steps back.


Courtesy Adidas UK / Twitter

The Advertising Standards Authority here in the UK decided earlier this month that this advert by Adidas UK should not be used following 24 complaints. The full ruling is here.

I wasn’t aware of this advert before all the media stories about the ban. I did not see the original tweet or any of the posters but 24 people obviously did and complained. Were these people a vocal minority? I don’t know how many people saw the original tweet or poster but were supportive or not fussed. There is no practical way for me to find out.

This decision by the Advertising Standards Authority is clear what the rules are. So it got me thinking what the rules are in other countries.

The research I have done has not been easy. The language barrier, if the codes are published in the native language, is the biggest hurdle. Finding the relevant sections in English versions has been hard enough, so add in a foreign language you can say has been challenging.

In the US, for example, there appears to be both national and state codes. If I was a full time researcher I would happily take the time to look through all of these but I’m not going to.

France is one country I have found that seems to allow nudity in their advertising. According to section 1.2 of the portrayal and respect of the human b­eings section it says:

When nudity is used in an advertisement, it must not be degrading or alienating and must not reduce human to object.

ARPP Code 2017

There are probably other countries that might have allowed this advert from Adidas UK but I can’t confirm it.

This campaign seems genuine in wanting to change how women are perceived. There does seem to be a desire to move away from the unattainable airbrushed look to a more realistic depiction. I can’t imagine the rules changing in the UK any time soon. So campaigns like this will always fall foul of these codes.