Last week we reported on a petition against the controversial Protein World ads. The signs – which asked ‘Are you beach body ready?’ – were edited, vandalised and changed by commuters on the London Underground unwilling to accept their ‘body shaming’ message. Now, as they reach the end of their advertising contract and are removed, we asked one of those commuters, PhD student Robert Stagg, to explain why they took a stance.
‘There was a group of renegades on the London Underground last week. You might have seen us. Every time we found one of Protein World’s lurid yellow “Are you beach body ready?” posters we made sure to add a terse written response. Some of us converted the slogan to “Each body’s ready”; others added “If my body is on a beach, it is ready”. I began in tentative British fashion by circling what I believed to be an incitement to anorexia (the company advertises its protein mixtures as a “meal replacement”) and scribbling the sternest marginal note I could manage. Fellow tube passengers did not, I’m afraid, erupt with applause but they did maintain a genial composure and one or two nodded in approval (although perhaps they were just falling asleep).
‘Protein World has responded by claiming that we are “terrorists” for “vandalising” its hard-bought billboards. I can’t say our actions spring to mind as an especially notable example of terrorism on the London Underground and the complaint about vandalism is just as laughable. These posters do not present a great civilised ideal. They show us a woman whose shoulders and arms have been pushed back so that her breasts may be pushed forward, and whose face is a mask of dumb bliss. They encourage women to swap nutritious food for chemical powders. They seek to embarrass and shame.’
Sign a petition against the ads here.