UK Considers Banning ‘Body Shaming’ Ads Featuring Thin Women

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A new program in the United Kingdom seeks to ban advertisements featuring thin women.

The Committee of Advertising Practice, which provides all guidelines and restrictions for advertisements throughout various mediums in the United Kingdom, is considering adopting a proposal that would ban the use of “body shaming” advertisements featuring thin women. The proposal would also eliminate ads that feature gender stereotypes such as a man struggling to change a baby’s diaper or a woman failing to park a car.

Ella Smillie, the lead on the proposal, argued that certain forms of stereotyping can be harmful. “Our review of the evidence strongly indicates that particular forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children by limiting how people see themselves and how others see them and the life decisions they take.”

In 2015, fitness company Protein World came under fire over an ad campaign featuring a thin female model. Some called for Protein World to “burn to the ground” for their use of the model, which allegedly caused body insecurity issues in those who viewed the ad. Under Smillie’s proposal, advertisements featuring models with rare or unusual physiques would not be permitted.

“The ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives,” the Committee of Advertising Practice said in a comment.

UK officials believe that ads depicting skinny women cause serious issues of insecurity. “[There] is evidence that certain gender stereotypes have the potential to cause harm or serious offence,” said Shahriar Coupal, director of the Committee of Advertising Practice. “That’s why we are proposing a new rule and guidance to restrict particular gender stereotypes in ads where we believe there’s an evidence-based case to do so.”

Earlier this year, comedian Sofie Hagen flew into a fit of rage after a cancer research organization placed advertisements that highlighted the link between obesity and cancer.


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