Are These Jewelry Ads Offensive?

A New Zealand fashion brand debuts a men’s ring collection with a campaign featuring naked women—and people are not happy

New Zealand fashion brand I Love Ugly debuted its first jewelry collection with a campaign that had the Internet up in arms.

“Jewellery is one of those things you either love or hate on a man,” reads an Instagram post from I Love Ugly. “We tried our best to rework something that makes a lot of males a little uneasy and turn it into something the dubious could potentially see themselves wearing.”

It wasn’t the rings that made people uneasy, however: it was the images accompanying them. They feature naked women’s bodies gripped by clothed men wearing the new ring collection and have been criticized for being misogynist and objectifying women.

(We have included the least revealing of the images in this post. The blog Highsnobiety has a full gallery of the images available here, but be warned, they are NSFW—not suitable for work.)

In response to the backlash, the company posted another image to its social feeds, this one with a black man’s naked torso gripped by a white woman’s hands—wrong again, said the critics, who argued that objectification of any body was wrong.

“We are disappointed to see I Love Ugly’s objectification of women in its latest ad campaign,” Rae Duff, president of the National Council of Women for New Zealand, told BuzzFeed. “The images use women’s bodies as mere props and promote unequal power dynamics. It reflects how too often women in our society are seen as merely sexual objects, and this feeds into our culture of abuse and violence against women.”

Of course, despite, or because of, the debate, the ads have done what they’re meant to do—advertise. The controversy has been written up at BuzzFeed, Refinery 29, and the Huffington Post, among other outlets. And, according to the brand’s website, two of the four ring styles are sold out.

The company has yet to respond to any outlet’s request for comment on the campaign, including ours. The only statement so far has been a since-deleted tweet from the brand’s Twitter account that read: “Mixed reviews about our latest ring campaign. Some love it, some hate it. If you’re nervous about something. You’re onto something good.”

Also absent from the brand’s social feeds: any of the original campaign images.

(Photo courtesy of I Love Ugly)

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