News from Caroline Russell: Latest body shaming ads should be torn down from tube stations

15 February 2017

Adverts likely to pressure commuters to conform to ‘unrealistic’ body images have been challenged by Caroline Russell who is quizzing the Mayor [1] about new tube stations ads put up since TfL rules were tightened last year.

Caroline Russell received complaints from constituents about recent Protein World ‘Can you keep up with a Kardashian?’ tube ads and has asked the Mayor if these will be removed because of their potential to create body confidence issues in young people.

Transport for London’s new advertising policy was brought in last year after the Mayor promised a crackdown on ads across the transport network that could ‘demean people, particularly women, and make them ashamed of their bodies’. [2]

The Mayor’s new guidelines state ads ‘will not be permitted to remain on TfL’s services if…it 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’. [3]

Caroline Russell said:

“People taking the tube should not have to be bombarded with adverts that imply their bodies aren’t good enough.

“Young people receive this negative message from enough social media channels and it’s appalling that this is being reinforced on tube platforms, against the Mayor’s own policy, when people are taking trips to school, to work or go out to socialise.

“I am urging the Mayor to look again at these adverts that challenge young people to ‘keep up’ with reality stars known for idealised and unrealistic body shapes. He needs to enforce his own guidelines and live up to his manifesto promise to Londoners.

“Every body is a good body and TfL should be promoting inclusion and making their stations welcoming and spaces. Allowing these adverts risks making people lose confidence in themselves.”

Notes to editors

[1] Full text of the question Caroline has submitted to the Mayor below:

Question Title: Negative body image advertising at London Underground stations

Member: Caroline Russell

The Transport for London (TfL) advertising policy came into force on 13th July 2016. The policy states ‘Advertisements will not be approved for, or permitted to remain on TfL’s services if…it 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’.

I have received complaints from constituents about the recent Protein World ‘Can you keep up with a Kardashian?’ advertisements that have been installed at London Underground stations. Do these advertisements fall foul of section 2.3 (d) of your advertising policy as stated above? If so, will you arrange for their removal from the TfL network?

[2] The Mayor’s press release on his ‘crackdown on body image ads on the TfL network including his commitment to ask TfL to set up an Advertising Steering Group.
https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/mayor-in-crackdown-on-body-image-advertisements

[3] TfL’s advertising policy
http://content.tfl.gov.uk/tfl-advertising-policy.pdf

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