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FKA Twigs calls out double standards in the modelling industry

The singer’s recent campaign with Calvin Klein faced backlash over her ‘partial nudity.’ 

‘I do not see the ‘stereotypical sexual object’ they have labelled me.’ These were the words pasted beneath an image of FKA Twigs, posted by the singer to her own Instagram page this week.

The photo features Twigs (as she is known by fans) partially covered by a shirt. The outline of her nude body is visible beneath.

Calvin Klein, a brand synonymous with pushing boundaries and challenging societal norms, was responsible for taking the image – part of a series for their latest campaign. But the photo of Twigs found itself at the centre of online controversy shortly after its release, and has since been taken down.

The cause of the backlash was Twigs’ ‘partial nudity,’ which – to the bewilderment of many – has ignited a heated debate about what is and isn’t ‘appropriate’ in advertising.

Whether you are offended by the (emphasis here – PARTIALLY) naked body of a woman or not, Calvin Klein’s decision to remove the campaign images has revealed a striking double standard latent in the media industry.


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Just a week before Twig’s images were released, Calvin Klein launched a similarly (if not more) provocative campaign starring actor Jeremy Allen White. Unlike the former, White’s stills and videos have gone viral for all the right reasons, drawing huge traction online and major applause from those in the advertising industry.

The stark contrast in public perception has raised important questions about the persistent bias faced by women – and in particular Black women – in the media.

The media industry has a long history of perpetuating stereotypes and double standards for people of colour.

Twigs’ experience with Calvin Klein is just the latest example of the disparity in treatment based on race and gender. The fact that her images were deemed ‘too sexual’ while a parallel campaign featuring a white male artist faced no such backlash is a glaring illustration of the imbalance within the industry.

While Jeremy Allen White’s campaign was celebrated and embraced across the internet, Twigs faced swift censorship and removal. This dichotomy is not only disheartening but also highlights the racial and gender biases that continue to shape our perceptions of beauty and acceptability.

The debate around the female body and its sexualization in mainstream media is not new, but it is evolving.

While conversations about body positivity and inclusivity are gaining momentum, the disparate treatment of Twigs’ campaign underscores the uphill battle Black women still face in breaking free from the narrow confines of traditional beauty standards.

‘i am proud of my physicality and hold the art i create with my vessel to the standards of women like josephine baker, eartha kitt and grace jones who broke down barriers of what it looks like to be empowered [sic]’ Twigs said on Instagram.

Her words highlight the historic othering and fetishisation of Black women, and the pressure placed on those in the public eye to unpick these perspectives single handedly.

Ultimately, it should not be the responsibility of Black women to untangle racist preconceptions and double standards. Brands, advertising regulators, and consumers need to fight for a more inclusive media landscape, and that starts with calling out discriminatory practices.

Twigs has received a lot of support since the campaign was taken down. But comments beneath her post still prove some people have a long way to go in recognising racial and patriarchal injustice.

Whenever a successful woman comments on her own appearance, people are quick to drag her down. The same cannot be said for white men like Jeremy Allen White. While he continues to bask in the limelight, Twigs’ removal demands an examination of the narratives that dictate our aesthetic norms.

It’s clear fashion – and the media as a whole – needs a rewrite. But you can labour the diversity and inclusion point until you’re blue in the face. If the side-boob and bare-leg of a woman are still offending people in 2024, we need to start putting our money where our mouth is.