Amanda Eklund, a law student in Umeå reported the advertisement for the Lekia toy chain to Sweden’s advertising ombudsman after it was printed in several newspapers and magazines in the northern Swedish city, complaining that it objectified women as sex objects and presented a stereotyped image of gender roles.
”Boys have the option of dressing themselves up as a fully clothed pirate, but the only option left for girls is to be a barely dressed, sexualised adult woman,” she wrote in her complaint, according to Swedish broadcaster SVT, which declined to name her.
“This is a stereotyped picture of gender roles, which a toyshop, whose target group are children, should not engage in.”
Lekia argued that 75% of the shop’s customers were in fact adults, many of them, like Eklund, students at Umeå University.
It said that that female model in the advert had been intended to show that the shop had fancy dress for adults as well as children, not to encourage young girls to wear suspenders and short skirts.
“We never thought for a moment that anyone could see it as sexist,” the chain said in its reply to the ombudsman, according to the local Västerbottens Kuriren newspaper.
The advertising ombudsman ordered the toyshop to withdraw the advert, ruling that it contravened sex discrimination rules prohibiting treating either women or men as sex objects, giving a stereotyped picture of gender roles, or denigrating either men or women.