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Mayor of London bans adverts that “demean” women and represent unrealistic body types

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London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, has said he will be cracking down on “unhealthy” and “unrealistic” body image advertisements on TfL properties.

The move comes a year after controversy surrounded a series of posters pasted in tube stations across the city that asked women if they were ‘beach body ready’, whilst suggesting that – if they weren't – they buy some slimming powder.

The Protein World adverts were ruled ‘not offensive’ by the ASA, despite the fact that they hit a sour note with thousands of Londoners. Seventy thousand people signed a petition campaigning for their removal, and a further number staged a protest in Hyde Park.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

Today, Khan announced that – from next month - TfL will no longer allow any adverts to be displayed that could ignite body confidence issues – especially among young people. The move is one which he’d previously hinted about in a London Mayor Ask a Feminist special

Khan says: “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.

“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.”

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The policy does not ban all images of people in underwear, but is expected to affect around 12,000 adverts a year on tubes, at train stations and in bus shelters. Khan claims there will be no impact on TfL’s income, which was £170 million last year.

Graeme Craig, TfL Commercial Development Director, says: “Our customers cannot simply switch off or turn a page if an advertisement offends or upsets them and we have a duty to ensure the copy we carry reflects that unique environment. 

“We want to encourage great advertising that engages people and enhances the transport network.”

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