June 14, 2016

London Mayor’s Radical Move to End Body Shaming Advertisements.

“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.”

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that advertisements portraying “unhealthy or unrealistic body images” are to be banned from the London’s public transport next month.

Last year Protein World’s, “Beach Body Ready” advertisements provoked a blacklash among London commuters, and a campaign to remove the advertisements gained over 70,000 signatures. So you would expect that we’re all on the same page now with the issue.

But today’s announcement by the London’s first Muslim Mayor wasn’t all welcomed warm-heartedly. Twitter users criticised the decision with the hashtag #censorship and posted mutilations of the original advertisement with women wearing burkas.

I live in London and I have seen those huge advertisements on the tube stops. In fact, I see different variations of them everyday; a half-naked woman selling everything from shampoos to last minute flights to Ibiza.

The problem is, that these advertisements set beauty standards. They tell us where to shop, what to eat and how our body should look like under our jeans and a blouse.

And this current, commercial standard is pretty narrow. (Read: white, thin, heterosexual.) Perhaps we can’t (yet) ban all the advertisements but if we could make them even a bit more equal and diverse, heck yeah.

Sadiq Khan is not out to stifle our freedom of speech or freedom to wear what we want. He is expanding the concept with this new radical move.

Advertisements are there to sell products, often, with sex and unrealistic body images. We can’t choose which kind of advertisements we see in public spaces, so I think this is a massive step toward a more diverse, more equal environment—to both men and women.

So perhaps next time, when I’m waiting that tube to arrive, I don’t have to compare myself to anyone. Thanks to Khan.

“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.” ~ Sadiq Khan


Author: Sara Kärpänen

Image: Twitter 

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

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