I’ve always found the 2011 Marc Jacobs perfume ad featuring Dakota Fanning to be extremely sexualizing. The 17-year-old actress sits with a flowered perfume bottle on her lap in a little girl’s dress that is hiked well up to her thighs. In case the Lolita setting isn’t conveyed strongly enough, the text below reads “Oh Lola!”
Apparently England agrees with me, as the country recently banned the advertisement for sexualizing children.
Dakota may be one year shy of 18, but the teenager is being exploited for her youth — explicitly chosen because she looks even younger than her 17 years. With big wide eyes and a baby doll face, she is being portrayed to look even younger — pairing her childlike appearance with blatant sexuality. Jacobs admitted openly that he chose Dakota for the perfume campaign because she epitomized the “contemporary Lolita.” As if that is an archetype that needs to be perpetuated in our media and advertising.
Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in England noted that even though the actress is 17, she is captured looking younger than 16 which the ASA considers extremely problematic, offensive, and “irresponsible.”
Jacobs very much intended to exploit the young actress’s childlike sexuality, as Daily Mail reports that he was inspired to use her in his campaign after seeing her play a punk rock singer in the film, The Runaways. Dakota was only 15 at the time.
When elaborating on his impressions of the film, the designer said:
“Dakota was in it, and I knew she could be this contemporary Lolita, seductive yet sweet.”
“Seductive” and “sweet” at 15 years old? How was he even permitted to photograph her given that he saw the young teen with such an adult sexuality?
Not only is a young girl being sexualized for the sake of selling products, but for a brand that is clearly for adult women — as if childlike beauty is standard to which adult women should aspire to?
I’m more and more impressed with the initiatives coming out of England to hold media images accountable for the highly problematic messages they send to both children and adults. Not only did England’s ASA famously ban Julie Roberts and Christy Turlington‘s obscenely overly-airbrushed advertisements, but some schools have also begun to teach kids about airbrushing in the classroom so that children can accurately understand the images with which they are constantly bombarded with.
The banning of Dakota Fanning’s sexualizing ad is another point for England, I say.