In 2015, self-proclaimed ‘premium online health store’ Protein World was slammed for its billboards which were plastered around London’s tube network. Deemed as ‘body-shaming’, the advertisement (below) showed an extremely slim woman posing in a yellow bikini and beside her the question asked ‘Are you beach body ready?’
Campaigners accused Protein World of body shaming and being ‘sexist’. Not only was there an online petition to remove the posters which gathered more than 70,000 signatures, but also Londoners went as far as to deface the posters. Eventually they were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and removed from all London underground stations.
The newly elected mayor of London Sadiq Khan has moved to ban body-shaming adverts from London transport. In a statement, Khan 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.”
Khan continued, “Nobody should feel pressurised, while they travel on the Tube or bus, into unrealistic expectations surrounding their bodies and I want to send a clear message to the advertising industry about this.”
TfL’s new advertising policy, which does not include all images of people in their underwear or swimming gear, is only expected to affect a handful of the 12,000 adverts a year which run across the network, including at bus shelters and on-street sites. TfL will also continue to refer potential campaigns to the Committee of Advertising Practice to ensure that they meet ASA regulations.