51,000 sign petition to take down advert
On a recent commute through London we came across a poster that brought a smile to our faces, not necessarily due to the beautiful, bikini clad model featured, but rather due to it’s boldness. “Are You Beach Body Ready?” is a new advertising campaign from supplement brand Protein World to promote their Slender Blend range of protein powders for meal replacement, and fat burner capsules. The bright yellow poster attracts attention and gets right to the point in a rather confrontational way as the model’s pose reinforces. This advert is timed for spring so that consumers thinking about getting in shape for the beach have time to make changes to their lifestyle in order to achieve a much desired beach body.
However not everyone sees it that way. Many women have responded in anger and frustration at the advert, posting pictures via social media of them flipping fingers to the advert, which in some locations has been defaced. Almost 51,000 people have signed an online petition to demand that the adverts are taken down and mass demonstrations are being planned this weekend in Hyde Park.
But what are these protests about? The products in question are vegetarian, gluten free and soy free supplements. The meal replacement Slender Blend is low in calories, fat and carbohydrate, whilst containing 93% whey protein concentrate. Both the Slender Blend shake and capsules use natural extracts from green tea and guarana as a source of caffeine to boost metabolism. The principle of this proposition to reduce calories, carbohydrates and fat whilst raising lean protein intake and boosting metabolism is very straight forward for a more sustainable weight loss approach (compared to fad diets and starvation).
So if the products themselves are fine then why all the commotion? Perhaps people are offended by the human form or supplement adverts that celebrate it? Not the case. As twitter user Dave Hill points out, a Bulk Powders advert that ran on London’s transport system in January this year featured a completely naked male model with some areas of his physique pixeled out. An advert to which there was no protest:
— David (@davehill29) April 28, 2015
So if it’s not the product and it’s not the body focused approach, then where does the issue lie? Are protesters saying that it’s ok for a supplement company to use a man with a great physique to promote their products, but when they do the same with a woman then that is unacceptable? Surely that would be a very sexist stance to adopt? Perhaps women don’t like being told what to do when it comes to issues concerning weight? In this case however the poster merely asks “Are You Beach Body Ready?” – a question and not a command. Surely if the answer is no – that you do not feel comfortable in your current shape then the advert offers what is a compelling solution. Whereas if the answer is yes – that you are comfortable with your shape, then ok.
The real issue here is that we don’t like being confronted about things we feel we can do nothing about. It is in a sense like being bullied. But in these protests the misunderstanding that surrounds our attitude towards health and fitness is revealed. Through the gossip mags, tabloids and blogs that give reams of conflicting and unsubstantiated advice on how to lose weight, many women have become confused and disheartened by everything. The word “diet” has become removed from its true meaning of ‘the food we eat every day of our lives’ and is now taken to mean ‘the week we only ate Ryvita’. So when confronted with a poster like this you can understand how you might get defensive, after all where did the last ‘5 day Ryvita diet’ get you? What Protein World is offering is not the same thing at all.
In a world in which there are so few things that we do have control over, this advert gives the message that through diet as part of a healthy lifestyle we can all definitely control something – i.e the body we desire. In our opinion this is hugely empowering. A far more positive message then to say being overweight is ok given the huge list of negative health implications such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Protein World products can be purchased from the Protein World online store.