London Commuters are in an uproar over a fitness ad by Protein World, which some say promotes a negative body image for women. The ad, posted in subway stations throughout the city, depict a woman with a toned tummy along with the tagline, “Are you beach body ready?” Charlotte Baring of East Sussex has started a change.org petition asking Protein World to remove the ads.
“Perhaps not everyone’s priority is having a ‘beach body’ (by the way, what is that?), and making somebody feel guilty for not prioritising it by questioning their personal choices is a step too far,” she writes. “The question I would like to pose to whoever gave this advert the go-ahead would be: what is ‘Beach Body Ready’? And who would not be?”
— Flora_TortoiseShell (@FloraEdward) April 22, 2015
Baring does have a point – the poster does seem to imply that being beach body ready would entail having a flat tummy and that if you’re not necessarily toned, you might not be “ready” for the beach. But to say that Protein World is trying to make people feel guilty for not being focused on fitness seems a little drastic to us. Protein World has been retweeting comments from supporters saying that the poster promotes health and fitness as opposed to simply being thin. They think of it more as fitsporation than body shaming. Meanwhile, the petition has over 34,000 and is very close to reaching its 35,000 goal.
Protein World could have just issued an apology or stated their point of view and moved on, but they’re sticking to their guns and have rather tastelessly defended their ads on social media. When Twitter user Juliette Baron tweeted the brand saying she signed the petition because she “spent life believing I’m not good enough,” Protein World responded, “Why make your insecurities our problem?” When Burton brought up the point that “adverts like yours add to the external voices telling young girls they’re not good enough as they are,” Protein World viciously replied, “And it’s ok to be fat and out of shape instead of healthy? We are a nation of sympathisers for fatties
#doesnthelpanyone.” Certainly not the kind of answer you want to use to diffuse an already volatile situation!
The Protein World campaign has been the subject of guerrilla marketing, with people modifying the ads to be more inclusive to all types of “beach bodies” (every body) and women posing alongside the ads in bikinis, to show that though their bodies might not be as toned as the model’s, they’re still acceptable for summer trips to the beach. And they would be correct.
— Matt Weatherall (@MTWTHRL) April 16, 2015
The Advertising Standards Authority is currently investigating these ads to see if they go against regulations.”We are looking into the complaints to establish whether there’s further grounds to remove them.” Protein World is not backing down, saying “It is a shame that in 2015 there are still a minority who aren’t focusing on celebrating those who aspire to be healthier, fitter and stronger.”