This month is the first where advertisements promoting unrealistic expectations about body image and health in London’s public transportation system will be banned. The ban comes after London’s mayor Sadiq Khan June 13 announcement.
The ban was in part spurred by fiery protests of the ad campaign “Are you beach body ready?” by Protein World in April 2015.
A petition on Change.org was created to remove the advertisements on the grounds that they were “directly targeting individuals, aiming to make them feel physically inferior to the unrealistic body image of the bronzed model, in order to sell their product.” As of July 6, 2016, the petition had gained over 71,000 signatures.
really loving those “are you beach body ready” proteinworld ads in the subway. it had been a while since id been reminded to hate my body
— Lilly (@lck1234321) July 5, 2015
Protein World was not receptive to the criticism. On Twitter, they were seen giving flippant responses to people offended by the ads.
— Protein World (@ProteinWorld) April 23, 2015
The London public transportation ban received mixed reviews.
Jessica Brown wrote in The Independent, a British online newspaper, about her experience with an eating disorder and how seeing images of unrealistic women’s bodies could be highly triggering to people dealing with body issues themselves. She was a strong supporter of the ban and said it would protect people from seeing “psychologically insidious” ads that “take away the element of choice.”
Brown was referencing the fact that public transit users have no choice but to see the images adorning the walls of the transportation system, which are unlike seeing an ad on television and having the power to change the channel.
Transport for London agreed with Brown, stating the ban was necessary because passengers were a captive audience.
Transport for London will not authorize ads that “could reasonably be seen as likely to cause pressure to conform to an unrealistic or unhealthy body shape, or as likely to create body-confidence issues, particularly among young people.”
Junior Kathryn Reid, a sociology major, agrees.
“I think that’s a pretty good idea, especially if the images are Photoshopped because if it’s not real, then people might think that what they see is real,” Reid said. ”It can help people who have trouble with self-esteem, or they want to be the best they can be and they think they can reach that goal, but they can’t because nobody can.”
Others were less welcoming toward the ban.
Some focused on the fact that Khan is a Muslim and zeroed in on his religion, while other critics called him out on imposing his own opinions on what constitutes a demeaning image and what would trigger someone to feel ashamed of their body.
We’ll see how this debate progresses when the ban goes into action in July.
What do you think about London’s ban? Let The Western Front know below in the comments.