In political correctness’ latest unnecessary crusade, thousands of people will protest in Hyde Park on Saturday, after over 45,000 signed an online petition. The reason? The advert above, which promotes a weight loss product by fitness brand Protein World. It features the tagline ‘Are you beach body ready?’, and an attractive lady who clearly is.
Unhealthy body image
So why the offence? In the messy social media uproar, it’s pretty hard to really pinpoint a single reason. The advertising Standard Authority said it received over 200 complaints about the ad, considered to be ‘offensive, irresponsible and harmful because it promotes an unhealthy body image’.
The online petition states ‘Protein World is directly targeting individuals, aiming to make them feel physically inferior to the unrealistic body image of the bronzed model’. It’s also widely accused of being sexist – you know, naked girl and all that. On a personal note, I think it gives a misrepresentation of female beach-goers, most of which don’t actually wear yellow bikinis.
Right, so let’s get this straight. Before I go any further, people close to me will know I’m not built in any way, shape or form. I like playing football, but I’ve never set foot in a gym. And I’m short. But then again, I’m not overweight which is nice. Basically I’m a physical neutral in this debate, sitting alone at the middle table, between the guy with the large Big Mac meal and the two testosteroned weirdos having an arm wrestle.
Natural build or hard work
I have several issues with this campaign. Firstly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the girl on the poster. You don’t have to look far to see super-skinny, actually unhealthy looking models. She isn’t one of them. Sure she’s slim, but it would be hypocritical to protest against someone’s body shape in the name of accepting people as they are.
To label her an unhealthy image as the petition does is arguably offensive in itself. Ultimately, there are two ways to explain people looking slim or fit like bronze lady: natural build or hard work. And we shouldn’t shame either.
Secondly, is the fight against weight loss and healthy diet products really a righteous war? According to the NHS website, obesity affects as much as one in four adult and a fifth of all children. And rising. It’s one of the main causes of mortality in the UK, killing thousands of people each year from a range of conditions such as heart disease, strokes and diabetes.
Of course, we should encourage people to feel good and confident in their own body. That being said, I certainly don’t think we as a society are in a position where we should start a witch hunt against fitness products and gyms.
As for the sexism argument, I wouldn’t interpret an equivalent poster featuring David Beckham -trust me, they are around if you really look for them – as a sexist objectification of the male body. If women want social equality of sexes, which unfortunately we’re still far from, they’ve got to accept the sexy posters thing. I don’t particularly enjoy staring at Beckham’s crotch every time a bus goes past, but that’s not going away any time soon either. We’ve all got problems.
In any case, you know you’re fighting a pretty lame cause when Katy Hopkins appears like the sensible party in the debate. I don’t feel ‘directly targeted’ by this advert as the petition claims. People so insecure in their own appearance they take a picture on an advertising board as personal attack should reflect on why that might be the case, not scribble over posters on the Tube and sulk.
After all, going out for a quick jog doesn’t take that much more effort than attending a protest march in Hyde Park. Perhaps we should spend more time doing that, and less getting offended by everything we see. I tell you, It’s political correctness gone mad.
Sorry, it’s political correctness gone mentally unbalanced.