IKEA airbushes women out of catalogue distributed in Saudi Arabia

Wow. It looks like the furniture giant IKEA thought it would be within their best interest that for their catalogue in Saudi Arabia, women should be removed from the picture — literally.

Ikea is being criticized for deleting images of women from the Saudi version of its furniture catalogue, a move the company says it regrets.

Comparing the Swedish and Saudi versions of the Ikea catalogue, Sweden’s free newspaper Metro on Monday showed that women had been airbrushed out of otherwise identical pictures showcasing the company’s home furnishings.

An example:


And there were several other omissions, including a picture of a picture of Audrey Hepburn, and even the removal of a female IKEA designer.

While Saudi Arabia has some terrible laws around women’s rights and participation in the public sphere, there is still no policy against portraying women in advertising, though there are guidelines around the way women are depicted in them (such as showing too much skin). I guess they thought it would just be easier to just remove them altogether.

Pretty quickly after Swedish media picked up the story, IKEA released a statement apologizing, saying: “We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalogue is in conflict with the IKEA Group values.” Values like, you know, not erasing women’s existence.

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