Cosmetic counsellor welcomes ban on ‘unhealthy body image’ ads on London’s Tubes and buses


London’s Mayor will crack down on any adverts that contribute to body confidence issues for the capital and its commuters.

Buses, bus shelters, tubes, DLR, overground trains, Victoria Coach Station and the rest of TFL’s advertising estate — estimated to be worth £1.5 billion — will no longer display ‘body shaming’ adverts, he’s promised.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan pledged the ban during his election campaign earlier this year.

It followed last summer’s public outrage over a poster on the London Underground that asked ‘Are you beach body ready?’ and featured a photo of a woman in a bikini. (pictured below)


The ads (for a slimming aid) even sparked a petition in a bid to get them removed, with campaigners describing the posters as ‘directly targeting individuals, aiming to make them feel physically inferior to the unrealistic body image of the bronzed model, in order to sell their product.’

It attracted 71,056 signatures.

At the time,. the Advertising Standards Agency also received complaints; protesters defaced the posters on the Tube network, and outraged commuters took to social media to challenge the company for its ‘body shaming’ ad campaign.

Now, Transport for London (TfL) will refuse any adverts that could ‘reasonably be seen to cause pressure to conform to an unrealistic or unhealthy body shape or likely to create body confidence issues, particularly among young people’.

The move has been welcomed by Deborah Sandler, co-founder of CosmeticSupport and Cosmetic Surgery Counselling, two independent support services that help guide potential and actual cosmetic patients to their own choices and decisions by exploring the difference between marketing and reality.

She said: ‘CosmeticSupport fully supports the Mayor of London and the BeReal Campaign in promoting diversity in body image.

‘The media makes it difficult for us to hear our own thoughts clearly. The images we are sold may be an “ideal image of beauty”, but is it realistic for all of us to be prescribed someone else’s idea of beauty?

'Recent government recommendations have attempted to rein in this type of advertising, with stricter guidelines on the ways in which cosmetic procedures and products can be advertised. Unfortunately, the temptation to put profits before patients remains a threat to patient safety.’

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: ‘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.’

He added: ‘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.’

The Mayor has asked TfL to establish an Advertising Steering Group ‘reflecting the full diversity of London, to monitor TfL’s approach to advertising and to keep its policy under regular review’.

Graeme Craig, TfL Commercial Development Director said: ‘Advertising on our network is unlike TV, online and print media. 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.’

Deborah concluded: ‘Becoming a well-informed patient, with realistic expectations, is a powerful way to approach treatment outcomes. This is why the cosmetic industry needs to support its own independent patient support group and this is what should be advertised throughout the capital’s public transport system.

If you would like to contact cosmetic counsellor Deborah Sandler with a question email today.

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