A Washing Machine, Lingerie and a Dragon

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There’s been quite a stir this week in Churchill Square, and it involves some lingerie, a washing machine…and a dragon. Of course, not an actual dragon, but Theo Paphitis, the owner of Boux Avenue, the lingerie chain of which has a store located in our beloved Churchill Square. The reason it was causing a stir? There were complaints that the window display was quite sexist. The display showed a mannequin in some very nice underwear…by a washing machine. Now, some of you may think ‘Great! Finally they have created some decent underwear that doesn’t get destroyed during a hot wash!’ but others, particularly student Sarah Derby, felt that it the message wasn’t that the lingerie shop had created miracle underwear, but that the ‘window displays a picture of a women as sexualise domestic beings’.

The hot wash thing was far too good to be true, and we can understand where Sarah is coming from. Women have long battled the stereotype that they are only good at domestic duties, and have been the butt of many ‘make me a sandwich’ or ‘get back to the kitchen’ jokes for years (they really aren’t funny, trust me). The complaint Sarah made accused the shop of ‘demeaning women with an outdated ideology’ and that the shop had misjudged the display as simply ‘fun and engaging’. Miss Derby told The Argus “I understand sex sells but this window displays a picture of women as sexualised domestic beings. They seem to be saying that to be sexy you also need to be able to do the laundry. I live in Kemp Town and walk past all the sex shops every day. This isn’t about beign prudish but sexuality shouldn’t be linked with domesticity. The implications of women as being noting more than sexualised domestic beings reinforces anachronistic gender roles of 50 plus years ago. The fact that is in such a prominent location at the front of the store suggest the minds behind the display put no thought to the implications and are indeed proud to display such ill-though and outdated ideology”

Theo Paphitis with his staff. Image from Boux Avenue

Boux Avenue quickly removed the window display and said that the display would not be repeated across its chain of national stores. A spokeswoman for Boux Avenue said “We are very concerned to hear of the complaint with regards to one of our window displays in the Brighton store. At Boux Avenue we pride ourselves on being a customer centric brand and we attempt to create fun and engaging window displays that we are confident our customers will enjoy. The window designed by our creative team, was not intended to cause ofence but we can see how the concept could be interpreted and have taken the feedback on board. The campaign is due to come to an end this week and this is not a creative that we will be repeating. We apologise for any offence caused, as this was by no means the effect intended’.

What do you think? Was it sexist?


Holly Martin


all images belong to Boux Avenue

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