Sadiq Kahn, London’s new Muslim mayor, has proposed a blanket ban on ads that ‘body shame’ women by displaying scantily clad, pretty women—the Protein World ad in question showing a fit woman in a yellow bikini with the words ‘Are you beach body ready?’
The London mayor’s office announced:
From next month, Transport for London will not allow ads which could reasonably be seen as likely to cause pressure to conform to an unrealistic or unhealthy body shape, or as likely to create body confidence issues, particularly among young people.
First, when did we start describing being in shape as ‘unhealthy’? Talk about NewSpeak. If ads start showing overweight women in bikinis, what sort of health does that promote?
As Brendan O’Neill pointed out:
The irony of Sadiq accusing advertisers of demeaning women as he sets himself up as the great protector of women from allegedly harmful images is just too much. What could be more demeaning to women than the idea that their self-esteem is so weak that they need politicians to cover their eyes so that they never see anything which might make them ‘ashamed of their bodies’?
How pathetic does the mayor think his constituents are, that they need to be sheltered from having their feelings or self-esteem hurt by an ad making them want something they don’t have? Which-by the way, is what every ad tries to do: make you want something you don’t yet have.
Not only does this censorship reflect the new feminism that expects the state to protect women (instead of allowing women to make choices for themselves), but the mayor’s policy also caters to Islamists and conservative Muslims who dislike such ads because they do not conform to Muslim ideas of modesty.
Which leads us to an obvious solution: Instead of ads featuring attractive, nearly naked females that might somehow damage the fairer sex if they happen to see them, perhaps ads should depict grossly obese women, asking the same question: “Are you beach body ready?” It would be fascinating to see what objections arise then.