Women Are Improving This “Beach Body” Advert With Their Own Body-Positive Messages

How to get a beach body? Take your body to the beach. Update: Transport for London has confirmed that the adverts are being removed.

update

* A spokesperson for Transport for London confirmed to BuzzFeed UK News that the adverts are being removed from the underground. They said the posters were at the “end of their advertising cycle” and that although they had seen press about the ads, they were unable to confirm whether official complaints had been been made.

TfL provided an official statement: “This advertisement will begin to be removed from our network as scheduled from tomorrow. We have received one complaint about it and we will be guided by The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) if a similar advert were to be submitted again. We have zero tolerance towards graffiti on the network and take action to prevent it and remove it.”

* BuzzFeed News also contacted the advertising partner for TfL, Exterion Media Metro Services. An Exterion Media spokesperson said:

“London Underground advertising campaigns typically run for a two-week period. This advertisement was booked as part of a three-week cycle from 13 April to 3 May. This was a unique cycle and part of an industry-wide consensus to realign booking periods with the calendar year. The next posting cycle is Monday 4 May and subject to access, all advertisements will be removed therefore by Friday 8 May.”

* The Advertising Standards Authority is launching launch an investigation into the advert campaign after it received 270 complaints, mostly arguing the advert is irresponsible and promotes an “unhealthy” body image.

2. Last week, BuzzFeed reported on this sexist advert that is all over the London Underground.

3. The advert, for the “fitness and sports nutrition” store Protein World, caused a stir on social media – so women began vandalising the posters on the tube.

4. People started sharing photos of their handiwork.

5. Sarcastic responses and alternative taglines were being written over the advert.

6. One message read: “Stop encouraging women to starve themselves.”

I committed an act of civil disobedience last week and it felt glorious @VagendaMagazine @EverydaySexism

— Miranda Fay (@mirandafay)

7. “#EachBodysReady,” read another.

8. “If my body is on a beach, then it is ready. Thank you very much.”

@VagendaMagazine @cait_gc I went one further:

— Nicole (@NicoleBurstein)

9. Someone even decided to print off a sign especially for the advert.

“Don’t worry about it. You look gorgeous just the way you are.”

13. Kids got involved.

 

16. Two feminists decided to stage a protest by posing in their bikinis by the advert.

You're god damn right @Catstello and I are beach body ready. No help needed, we're #alreadyperfect. #bodypositive

— Fiona Longmuir (@EscapologistGl)

17. In a blog post, one of them, Fiona Longmuir, explained why she and her friend, Tara Costello, did the stunt:

In my mind, getting beach body ready would involve slathering myself in suncream. I am so tired of the message that women have to make some kind of effort in order to be socially acceptable. Is this kind of guilt tripping and body shaming really the best way to shift your products?

We agreed that we would pose in our bikinis next to the poster, just to let everyone know that we considered ourselves very much beach ready, and gorgeous to boot.

18. A petition against the advert has led to over 40,000 sign-ups.

Lottie Baring, the 19-year-old from East Sussex behind the Change.org petition, told BuzzFeed News:

“I am extremely pleased to hear that TFL will be removing Protein World’s ad and although the reason has not been confirmed, I am sure that the public response of over 50, 000 signatures and protests has influenced this decision, and I am proud to have been a part of that. “

20. In response to the backlash, Protein World stated that critics of the advert had “insecurities”.

Juliette Burton, an actor and comedian, told BuzzFeed News that she tweeted the company because as a teenager she had struggled with anorexia, bulimia, being overweight, and compulsive overeating. She was also diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

“I now campaign and perform comedy to break down stigma and encourage body confidence,” she said. When the company sent her the above tweet, Burton said: “Using a winky face doesn’t make up for psychological abuse of ads like this.”

22. When Burton continued tweeting the company, it replied with the following message.

23. It then told another woman calling out the sexist advert to “grow up”.

@HarrietEJohnson @FemLonCon Grow up Harriet

— Protein World (@ProteinWorld)

24. In a now-deleted tweet, the CEO of Protein World, Arjun Seth, answered one critic with this.

25. Since last week, the Twitter account has been retweeting anti-feminist messages.

still no response from @ProteinWorld http://t.co/lKpkcrXIQN they're too busy tweeting anti-feminist things like this:

— Rossalyn Warren (@RossalynWarren)

26. Meanwhile, women and men are still sharing photos of the poster – and the lack of it – on the tube.

.@EmmaBurnell_ @ProteinWorld @RossalynWarren Up in arms - what a shocker of a campaign. Seeing this made me feel glad

— Maia Beresford (@BeresfordMaia)
Becky Evans / BuzzFeed

And I saw a defaced 'Beach Body' ad in the wild! #eachbodysready

— Nia (@stonecypher)

Absolutely brilliant! #beachbodyready (via @benrevens) @RossalynWarren @VagendaMagazine

— Nicole (@NicoleBurstein)

30. The company has claimed the backlash is “extremism”.

"This is not feminism, it is extremism" say @ProteinWorld re controversy, 40,000 petitioners, over this ad:

— Mike Deri Smith (@mikederismith)

31. On Sunday, the CEO of Protein World tweeted that despite the negative response to the adverts, sales of the company’s products had increased.

@ElectricAlley @ProteinWorld @RossalynWarren sales have tripled and the PR department has got a bonus😉💪 #Winning

— Arjun Seth (@arjun_seth)

32. On Monday, the CEO of Protein World, Arjun Seth, told Channel 4 News that he believed critics of the advert were “terrorists.”

Seth told Channel 4 News the people criticising the advert were a “minority” and that he would only take notice if the petition reached 1 million sign-ups.

33. The company has still refused to give BuzzFeed News a comment. We’ll update this post if we receive one.

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
 
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