Vicky Spratt | Deputy Editor | Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Sadiq Khan Moves To Get Body Shaming Adverts Banned On Public Transport In London

Sadiq Khan Moves To Get Body Shaming Adverts Banned On Public Transport In London

The Debrief: When The Debrief spoke to Sadiq Khan before he was elected Mayor of London one of the things he promised to take action on was adverts which promoted ‘unhealthy or unrealistic’ body images on public transport in London. True to his word, such adverts will be banned across the Transport for London (TFL) network from next month.

When The Debrief spoke to Sadiq Khan before he was elected Mayor of London one of the things he promised to take action on was adverts which promoted ‘unhealthy or unrealistic’ body images on public transport in London. True to his word, such adverts will be banned across the Transport for London (TFL) network from next month.

Last year Protein World’s ‘Are You Beach Body Ready?’ advert, rightly, caused a storm. The yellow background emphasised the figure of a young woman in a yellow bikini looking pretty trim and yet, somehow, still buxom, implying that this is what women everywhere should aspire to look like on the beach. The advert cynically played into all of our fears about the fact that very few women look like this in our bikinis. She loomed large on the tube’s bill boards, while down in the bottom right hand corner of the ad sat a much smaller pot of pills from Protein World’s ‘weight loss collection’. The suggestion was clearly that this body type would be achievable with their product.

Huge numbers of people felt that this was inappropriate, hundreds of people complained to the advertising watchdog – the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – who eventually ruled that the advert was acceptable. Many disagreed however and the bright yellow posters were defaced in tube stations across London.

At the time Rebecca Field, a spokesperson for eating disorders charity BEAT, said, 'we find the ruling from the ASA extremely disappointing and we would argue that the advert is irresponsible.’

She added, 'while we recognise advertising and the media cannot cause eating disorders – they are much more complex than that – we are aware how toxic images can be to an individual. While continuing to promote a slender body image as the only one we should aspire to, the Protein World advert advertises diet products, only adding to the harmful effect it could have on those susceptible to an eating disorder.'

Khan, London’s new Mayor, has stuck by his manifesto pledge and asked TFL to set up a steering group on advertising. They will advise TFL’s advertising partners and stakeholders on the Mayor’s new policy stance and ensure adverts adhere to regulations set out by the ASA.

The Mayor himself said, ‘as the father of two teenage girls, I am extremely concerned about this kind of advertising which can demean people, particularly women, and make them ashamed of their bodies. It is high time it came to an end.’

About time too.

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Tags: Politics, Sexism