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Storm of protest greets ad that readers say sexualises children

A controversial advert for clothing brand Sisley has come under fire in a row about sexualising children.

The popular high street brand has just printed photos of its brand new campaign -- featuring a teenager provocatively posed in a short dress and holding a cucumber with the tagline "Let it flow".

The photographs appeared in a publication called The Gloss, a supplement in the Irish Times yesterday.

Both the pose and the youthful looks of the model featured caused a stir after it appeared.

While the model featured is actually 19, she looks significantly younger, with someone suggesting she could pass for a 12-year-old.

Angry readers took to calling Joe Duffy's Liveline to express their concern at the ad, which they say was too "sexually charged".

One woman said that she is the mother of a 15-year-old girl and particularly upset at the image that she feels the ad is giving off.

"It's titillating and very suggestive," she said. "I don't know who their target market is for the advert, but it certainly suggesting something more than clothes."

Callers suggested that pre-teens could relate to the girl's age and it was encouraging too much too young.


"It's exploitative because anyone of 12 or 13 would identify with the girl. Kids should be kids as long as they can be. They just don't need to be bombarded with these kind of images."

And one woman pointed out that the use of a cucumber as the focal point of the ad simply confused readers.

"First of all I didn't understand what they were trying to sell -- are they trying to boost the sales of cucumbers? I don't think so.

"I just thought that this is a young girl sitting on the floor, long legs bare, she's just a gap-toothed girl. She could be 13, she could be 15."

Although in reality, Texan model Ashley Smith is considered an adult, her incredibly youthful looks have caused the outrage.

Although mothers may be outraged, fashion worshippers have praised the freshness of the ad.

The "urban junkie" themed shoot was shot by controversial photographer Terry Richardson and also features Ashley in a variety of different poses, including one in a laundromat, one in a supermarket and one of her just wearing a bra next to a motorcycle.

"I'm 19, but a lot of people say I've got the face of a 14-year old and the soul of a wise old woman, so you do the math," she said.

A spokesperson for Sisley clothing could not be reached and The Gloss magazine would not comment last night.