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The new mayor of London has just banned 'bodyshaming' ads on the Underground

Sadiq Khan’s move means ads which promote unrealistic body expectations and demean women will no longer run on the city’s transport network

Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE NEW MAYOR of London has banned ‘bodyshaming’ ads on the city’s transport network from next month.

Sadiq Khan, 45, became mayor of the City in May. During his campaign, he had pledged to tackle ‘bodyshaming’ advertising – which promote unrealistic expectations about body image and health.

In a statement, Khan said:

As the father of two teenage girls, I am extremely concerned about this kind of advertising which can demean people, particularly women, and make them ashamed of their bodies. It is high time it came to an end. Nobody should feel pressurised, while they travel on the Tube or bus, into unrealistic expectations surrounding their bodies and I want to send a clear message to the advertising industry about this.

Pride in London 2016 Mayor of London Sadiq Khan pictured today at the Pride in London 2016 #NoFilter campaign launch Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The pledge followed protests about the ‘Beach body ready’ ad campaign in April 2015.

An online petition calling for their removal attracted more than 70,000 signatures, but the Advertising Standards Authority declined to take action.

The company behind the ads, Protein World, was accused of “directly targeting individuals, aiming to make them feel physically inferior to the unrealistic body image of the bronzed model, in order to sell their product”.  


From next month, Transport for London (TfL) 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’.

The Mayor has also asked TfL to establish an Advertising Steering Group including its advertising partners and stakeholders ‘reflecting the full diversity of London’, to monitor TfL’s approach to advertising and to keep its policy under regular review.

Night tube dispute File photo of a London Underground sign lit against Big Ben Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

TfL’s advertising estate is the most valuable in the world, and during the next eight and a half years it will generate more than £1.5 billion in revenue to reinvest in the transport network.

The estate includes advertising space on the Tube, Overground, DLR, Victoria Coach Station, Trams, bus shelters, buses and on-street advertising.

Around 12,000 advertisements appear each year.

Graeme Craig, Commercial Development Director with Transport for London, said:

Advertising on our network is unlike TV, online and print media. Our customers cannot simply switch off or turn a page if an advertisement offends or upsets them and we have a duty to ensure the copy we carry reflects that unique environment.

A former Transport Minister in the Labour government of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Khan was pilloried by Zac Goldsmith, his Conservative opponent in the mayoralty race, for sharing platforms with extremists during his earlier career as a human-rights lawyer.

Khan has also campaigned for marriage equality, and was on the receiving end of a fatwa in 2013 from Muslim extremists.

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