Dame Tessa Jowell, the frontrunner to become Labour’s candidate for Mayor, has vowed to ban adverts featuring skinny and scantily clad female models from public transport.
The ban would see an end to ads such as the controversial “Are you beach body ready?” poster which drew hundreds of complaints from passengers but was later cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority.
Jowell says adverts which feature and promote “an unrealistic body image” add to the pressure felt by many woman “to conform to unhealthy and demeaning stereotypes.”
If elected Mayor next year she’s pledged to revise Transport for London’s advertising code so that such ads are no longer accepted anywhere on the capital’s Tube, DLR, Overground and bus networks.
Former Mayor Ken Livingstone previously used the rules to stop holiday firm Sandals advertising its services as being for ‘mixed sex couples only’, a policy which many criticised as homophobic.
The firm ultimately scrapped its policy of banning same sex couples from booking holidays at its resorts.
High footfall means TfL’s services and stations are considered key locations for promoting products and any changes made by advertisers to meet Jowell’s new rules could potentially change how brands market themselves across the UK.
A spokesperson for the former Culture Secretary said: “Tessa was one of the pioneers in confronting the oppressive media and fashion industry images of the perfect woman’s body – too often an emaciated size double zero.
“But despite the progress that has been made, it is extraordinary that London transport this year carried the ‘Beach Body Ready’ adverts. That will stop if she becomes Mayor.”
Despite the clampdown on skinny models in advertising, Jowell’s campaign was unable to say whether she would continue City Hall’s funding for London Fashion Week which is regularly criticised for its use of “super-skinny” models.
In the current financial year Mayor Boris Johnson is providing the British Fashion Council with £649,000 “to deliver a range of activities including London Fashion Week”.