Gina Mei
March 24, 2015 6:00 am

A student ad campaign has recently gone viral for its very important message: “Don’t measure a woman’s worth by her clothes.” (Which should, of course, be obvious by now — but unfortunately doesn’t seem to be.)

The campaign, titled A Woman’s Worth, designed by students at the Miami Ad School in Hamburg, consists of three ads, each depicting a woman’s body part — chest, legs, feet — along with a ruler of adjectives from “prude” to “whore” to describe what different cuts of top, lengths of skirt, and heights of heels “imply” about the women in question. The images aim to combat the all-too-common notion that a woman is asking for judgment (or much worse) based on what she’s wearing, and we’re totally in support of what it has to say.

But A Woman’s Worth has recently come under fire over claims its images were taken from an uncredited student artist. The campaign — designed by Theresa Wlokka (credited as art director) and Frida Regeheim (credited as copywriter) along with other students for a class assignment at the Miami Ad School in Hamburg, Germany — is remarkably similar to college student Pamona Lake’s (formerly Rosea Lake) project from 2013, Judgments.

“Sometimes you can absorb ideas without realizing where it’s from, but in this instance, word for word the projects are the same,” Lake told The Huffington Post, “If they had emailed me and reached out for permission and credited me with the idea, I would have said yes.”

In a statement to HuffPo, Wlokka denied any intentional plagiarism, and said that she’d reached out to Lake to further clarify any misunderstanding. She added, “We’re all fighting the same fight. When it comes to advertising there usually is something out there that’s similar to your idea. In this case we see it as something positive since it’s for a good cause. We’re really happy that the campaign has started a discussion and we hope that it makes people think. About how we treat each other, not about the way we dress.”

Plagiarism is obviously not cool — but we can agree that the message behind the series is extremely important, regardless of its origins. In a 2013 interview with The Huffington Post at the time her Judgments image went viral, Lake had said she was inspired by the graduated cylinders in her high school science class to “take the idea of impersonal, supposedly objective, measurement of things and put it on something that we do measure, but we don’t talk about.” And we still need to be talking about it, in order to create change.

Terre des Femmes, the Swiss human rights non-profit, which has been most commonly attributed for commissioning A Woman’s Worth (their logo is on the ads), has released a statement saying they were “not involved in the creation and publication of the campaign” and that they were not asked for permission to use their logo.

“Nevertheless,” Terre des Femmes concludes, “it is a campaign well done and in principle we support the message the campaign is spreading: No matter what a woman is wearing, she will be judged by it.”

In a culture of victim-blaming, where women are always at fault — even for something as trivial as her clothing choices — the message behind the campaign remains as important as ever. But it’s rare that such a campaign raises awareness about something that wasn’t intentionally the focus, like plagiarism. Hopefully, these ads offer insight and change for the better with regards to both issues.

Check out A Woman’s Worth below, and let us know what you think.

(Images via, via.)

Advertisement