Advertising the perfect beach body. Showcasing a slim and trim look. Veneration of youth and attractiveness. This isn’t new. Companies have always relied on conceptions of “beauty” to sell products. This has been the case since the dawn of advertising. Now, however, the city of London is taking steps…
‘Body shaming’ ads banned from London’s Tube
BY DANICA KIRKA
Advertising that promotes an unhealthy body image will be banned on London’s subway network, in a move that signals a backlash against suggestive marketing in public places.
Starting next month, Transport for London will not allow ads that cause pressure to conform to “unrealistic or unhealthy body shape,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement.
“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,” Khan said. “It is high time it came to an end.”
Concerns were raised last year when an advertisement featuring a model in a bikini asked “Are you beach body ready?” The ad promoted a weight loss supplement and prompted 378 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority last year — one of the most complained about ads in 2015.
The authority has the ability to ban ads that are likely to cause widespread serious offence or harm once they come into public space.
What Khan and Transport for London are moving to do, however, is to prevent them from coming into public spaces in the first place. The recently elected Khan fulfilled a campaign pledge by asking TFL to establish a steering group that includes its advertising partners and a range of stakeholders that reflect London’s diversity “to monitor TFL’s approach to advertising and to keep its policy under regular review.”
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