IKEA catalogs all look the same. Except for the 2013 Saudi catalog that magically made women disappear altogether. IKEA the world’s largest furniture store recently slipped up when it decided to erase images of women out of its Saudi catalog. For example the picture above shows the original catalog photo on the right with a woman in it, but when you scan to the photo on the left the woman is no longer in the picture.
Saudi Arabia is known for limiting women’s rights. For instance women are not allowed to drive, and are expected to be fully covered when in public.IKEA, on the other hand, is a store that is about the home, and a large part of home life involves a wife, girlfriend, or daughter. IKEA stated in its apology, “We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog is in conflict with the IKEA Group values.”
So then why did IKEA Photoshop women out of their advertisements in its Saudi catalog? Did they think that because Saudi Arabia suppresses their women, it would be a selling point if they just took the women out of the catalog as if they didn’t exist? Gender inequality is an issue in Saudi Arabia, and because of IKEA’s decision to change the catalog by deleting women from the advertisements altogether they are feeding a bias and possibly losing female customers.
- Ikea Caught Photoshopping Women Out of Its Saudi Arabian Catalog [The Lady Vanishes] (gawker.com)
- Can you delete women from society? IKEA apparently thinks so (globolicious.wordpress.com)