German Lingerie Ad with Veiled Woman: Empowering or Offensive?



Daily – January 7, 2010

What makes an effective lingerie ad? If you guessed a niqab, a type of veil worn by some Muslim women, kudos to you for thinking outside the box like the creators of this spot by German lingerie retailer Liaison Dangereuse.

Be assured, however, that there are also plenty of sexy curves in this ad.

The spot begins with a dark-haired woman stepping out of the shower. With vaguely Middle Eastern music playing, she applies mascara, steps into high heels, slips on black lingerie and garters and spins in front of the mirror, clearly admiring her body and the lingerie she’s wearing. Up to this point, it’s typical lingerie commercial fare, but then the ad leaps from the mundane to the surprising: the woman quickly flips a niqab over her head. With only her mascara-ed eyes visible, she gazes out of a window. Then the tag line appears: “sexiness is for everyone.”

It’s a daring ad, yet one that sends a positive message that goes well beyond hawking lacy teddies. Whether a person is wearing a sweatsuit or burqa, their true identity cannot be parsed by their outward appearance.

Of course, this ad is not meeting with approval from every corner. discusses a Norwegian television interview with religion historian Hanne Nabintu Herland, who criticized the commercial because it “links the Arab dress with sexuality, and not to morals and virtue.” Well, Liaisons Dangereuse is in the business of making money by selling naughty undergarments, so it’s unlikely their marketing plan called for promoting “morals and virtue.” Herland says the ad unnecessarily “trample[s] the cultural dress of Muslims.”

Liaisons Dangereuse isn’t the only lingerie retailer to court Muslim women. Last year, Victoria’s Secret, which is owned by Limited Brands (LTD), sent a box of bras to Saudi Arabia to help more than two dozen women learn how to fit and sell underwear, according to the Associated Press. The course was created after some Saudi women protested that their lingerie stores were staffed only by men, causing embarrassment and leading to ill-fitting purchases, the AP reported.

One question raised by the ad is where the niqab-clad woman is planning to go? Liaison Dangereuse could court more controversy and raise more eyebrows if they provide a sequel to this story.

5 thoughts on “German Lingerie Ad with Veiled Woman: Empowering or Offensive?

  1. I like this ad. It portrays Muslim women as sexy and women who take care of their bodies and their appearance. From recent articles on this website and others and from personal experience, I feel Muslims, esp. Muslim Americans are shy to embrace their sexualiy and can sometimes be too prudish, esp. women…

  2. I do not support this ad or ads like this.
    It just fails to understand the entire point of veiling. Women cover themselves BECAUSE they are sexy. If they weren’t inherently sexy, they wouldn’t need to veil. Lingerie is not needed to make women sexy.
    That’s the sad part about this society: women are made to believe they need to buy things to be sexy, because they aren’t sexy just being women.

  3. I think it’s just ridiculous to say this ad is empowering. It’s demeaning to women in general when they are made to believe that certain types of clothing are more sexy than their own bodies. It’s just sad.

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