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IKEA and the Business of Airbrushing Women

The Swedish furniture purveyor omits women from its Saudi catalog

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IKEA Kitchen Sans People(IKEA)

IKEA. Nothing may better sum up the domestic horrors unearthed by trips to the Swedish furniture store than this clip from 30 Rock below:

(For those keeping score, the name of the actor who plays the embattled old man is Bernie Lippman.)

Beyond its place as a cultural reference point in America, IKEA has a fascinating history. According to a book released last year, IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad was a Nazi sympathizer not only as a young lad during World War II, but well into the years after the war.

The latest news about IKEA has to do with its decision to airbrush women out of its Saudi catalog.

Images of women were airbrushed from copies of the Swedish-based retailer’s annual catalog shipped to the religiously conservative Islamic kingdom. For example, one photo in the publication showed a mother, father and two children in a bathroom. In the Saudi version, the image of the woman was removed.

The controversy, which was first reported in the Swedish media, comes at a time when women are battling religious conservatives to gain equal footing in Saudi Arabia. IKEA issued an apology for its actions on Monday.

Eman Al Nafjan, who blogs and tweets as Saudiwoman, shrugged about the controversy:

“We’re beyond that right now in Saudi Arabia,” she told CNN. “With Internet and satellite TV, there’s really no such thing anymore as blacking out women or airbrushing out women. I would be upset if something like Google was doing it, but for IKEA to do it, that’s just marketing — it’s not such a big deal.

Earlier: Nazi Past with a Side of Lingonberries
Images of women shelved in IKEA’s Saudi Catalog [CNN]

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Umish Katani says:

its not ikeas department to change the social norms in a moslem society, its their business to sell their junk to whomever will buy it. If that means no women so be it… no better than telling us to stop our freedom of speech because the islamists dont like it. No they sell and thats it.

And just how is this different than what the datim do in Israel? By now we should know that women have their place… in the kitchen out of view or if not in the kitchen in the bedroom behind closed doors making babies.


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IKEA and the Business of Airbrushing Women

The Swedish furniture purveyor omits women from its Saudi catalog

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