Proud2Bme Writers React: London Bans Body Shaming on the Tube
By Carla Roman--In a bold move, London has decided to ban body-shaming ads from public transit. The ban comes straight from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who believes that after a long work day or busy night, commuters shouldn’t have another added stressor.
The ads that are being banned are those that idealize the perfect “bikini body” or use fat-phobic messages. The Transport for London (TFL) and their advertising partners will now screen and then send ads being considered for public transit to the Committee of Advertising Practice, which will make sure all ads being considered meet these new standards.
This whole initiative began with public transit passenger complaints about an ad for Protein World’s Weight Loss Collection, which suggested their product would help you get “beach-bod ready.” Passengers complained that the ad was suggesting that not all bodies should be on the beach and that you must lose weight in order to wear a bikini.
A press release mentioned how important it is for commuters to feel safe with what is around them. Commuters cannot control what ads they see on the train or bus they get on. The press release also stressed the importance of not triggering riders who already have body image issues.
While this is a great initiative that sends a clear message to advertisers about body shaming, there is still a long way to go. For London, this is a step in the right direction to making the tube a safe place for women and men who already struggle with body image issues. Perhaps, in a time of political confusion for England, this initiative can be a silver lining.
By Palmer Hipp--If you ask London Mayor Sadiq Khan what it takes to have a beach body, I’m pretty sure he’d say, “1. Have a body and 2. Go to the beach.” I’d be lying if I said I condone body shaming advertisements, but I do have a few hesitations about the ban.
Should authorities challenge advertisers who promote unhealthy behaviors? Yes. Should companies stop Photoshopping images? Yes. Should there be policies in place to prevent “objectifying images?” Yes. I ask myself these questions every time I open a magazine, watch a commercial or walk down the side of the road, and the answer is always yes. We are surrounded by unhealthy standards of beauty, but the problem with the altered, unrealistic images are not the bodies themselves, but a person whose face we never see. The person behind the computer is coming up with ways to shame women for their bodies, ways to profit off insecurity and ways to distort models, so the public believes digital art is attainable in the gym. It is an industry-made problem.
I believe there ought to be a discussion about body shaming in advertisements, and I believe there are regulations and policies needed to combat these issues. In regards to Mayor Khan’s ban, I believe he could have taken a more direct approach. If he had banned digitally-altered or distorted bodies in images, banned rhetoric that reinforces negative, unrealistic expectations and unhealthy behaviors, then I think he could have made a significant change in the advertisement industry.
We must work to include all bodies; by censoring one type of body, the stigmas surrounding all shapes strengthen. The language must change. Language matters: it shapes how we view and form opinions around images. If companies embrace and represent all body types in their advertisements and obey policies that promote affirmative, body positive talk, this will create a healthy environment for everyone.
By Sarah Haviland--In a world where thinness is so desired, banning the aforementioned ads rejects the notion that people should resort to whatever measures are necessary in order to be thin, as it suggests that body-shaming is not acceptable. Moreover, the body-shaming ad ban takes these ads away as images of normalcy, as we become habituated to what we see when we see it often enough.
However, there are still more actions that need to be taken against body-shaming ads, which Mayor Khan’s body-shaming ad ban will hopefully help spur. Mayor Khan’s ban is a welcome first step. Body-shaming ads are ubiquitous in magazines and on television as well, though. The body-shaming ad ban in London’s public transit may lessen societal pressures to be thin, but the negative implications of the ads that are still in place may prevent individuals from being able to fully accept who they are.
However, one action can lead to a sea of change. Bans bring topics into public discourse, which can lead to the reconsideration of other relevant policies that are in place and, consequently, more bans and altered policies. Therefore, the ad ban in London may incentivize companies to market their products in a way that is not body-shaming, as further bans of body-shaming ads could yield decreased revenue. Nobody knows exactly what may result from Mayor Khan’s action; one can infer, though, that society will be better off from it.
By Erin Gargaro--Khan's stance has an important implication—that the government has a responsibility to filter harmful content from its own advertising network.
Yes! Yes! Yes! The general public is starting to recognize that perpetuating a narrow range of physical ideals is a problem. Political figures are addressing it! Winds of change are blowing!
Along with these changes, it's important to recognize that while changing the images and messages in ads is important, the ads themselves are a symptom of a much, much bigger problem. People have been writing papers, theses, studies, and books about the evolution of advertising. Either directly or indirectly, they all say the same thing: "Wake up. Nobody is going to sell you their product by letting you believe that you and your life are good enough without it."
Narrow, often unattainable beauty standards are a symptom. The disease is our willingness to believe that we aren't good enough; that we need things like perfect bodies, great cars or the latest denim trend to be worthy.