FKA Twigs' Calvin Klein Ad Shouldn't Be Censored

FKA Twigs' Calvin Klein Ad Shouldn't Be Censored

By Tobias HessJan 11, 2024

I never feel more American than when the Brits do something insane. In bizarre, pearl-clutching fashion, the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against a Calvin Klein ad that features British superstar FKA Twigs scantily clad, draped with a drooping frock of Calvin Klein denim. Similar to another contribution to the campaign — which depicts Kendall Jenner holding her breasts while laying cooly in her Calvins — Twigs’ ad expresses the dual vulnerability and power of female nudity. This makes it all the more strange that the ASA ruled in favor of Jenner’s poster, noting that, unlike Twigs’ it did not depict her as a “sexual object.”

The double-standard is clear to all, let alone Twigs who issued the following in response to the ruling:

I do not see the ‘stereotypical sexual object’ that they have labeled me. i see a beautiful strong woman of colour whose incredible body has overcome more pain than you can imagine.

in light of reviewing other campaigns past and current of this nature, i can’t help but feel there are some double standards here. so to be clear…

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 and harness a unique embodied sensuality. thank you to ck and mert and marcus who gave me a space to express myself exactly how i wanted to - i will not have my narrative changed.

For Twigs especially, nudity and the body has played a consistently integral role in her artistry. In her iconic video to “Cellophane”, she moves with Olympic precision and awe-inspiring grace on a pole while moving up and out towards heaven. Her body is front and center in the video, powerful and vulnerable. That such a video was made in lieu of widely-reported on stories of alleged abuse by Shia Labeouf, who she would later sue for sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress, should properly contextualize that for Twigs, the use of her body is not some crass deployment of objectification.

In this Calvin Klein campaign, her nudity is in clear service of portraying a “body [that] has overcome more pain than you can imagine.” That the ASA overlooked such public history for their sad attempt at arts analysis is a real shame, and a true story of injustice for an artist who has fought hard for her autonomy and perspective.

Photography:Gareth Cattermole for Getty Image