The concept of a "beach body" can be a controversial one. Some people want to slim down and tone up as much as possible for a boost of confidence before they hit the sandy shores, and there’s certainly plenty of tips online (and on our site) to do it.
Others take the stance that as long as you’ve got both a body and a beach, then you're all set. This group would argue that pushing people toward an "ideal" bikini body is a form of body-shaming. Neither group is wrong or right—it’s a point of personal opinion. But people in both camps can probably agree that British supplement company Protein World's defense of it ads is all wrong.
The company recently posted advertisements all over the London Underground featuring a slim model in a yellow bikini alongside the words “ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?” to promote their meal replacement weight-loss aids.
Now Londoners are adding their own messages to the ads and posting them on social media.
— ColletteLyons (@collette_lyons) April 27, 2015
— The Vagenda Team (@VagendaMagazine) April 22, 2015
— Miranda Fay Thomas (@DrMirandaFay) April 22, 2015
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There’s even a Change.org petition with more than 48,000 signatures asking Protein World to take down the signs.
"Protein World is 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," Charlotte Baring, the author of the petition, wrote in the description.
But Protein World Chief Executive Arjun Seth told the UK's Channel 4 News that the ads are “aspirational” and he won’t do anything unless the petition doubles to 100,000 signatures. He said that the people who are complaining online are a “minority” and “they’re terrorists, you can quote me on that.”
Instead, Seth said, the controversy is good for business, and they’ve gained around 20,000 followers in the last few days, boosting sales. It’s not a problem, he said, “as long as our customer base keeps on growing. We are a small British manufacturer. We don't like backing down to a few people.”
But for those that disagree, the backlash is growing, too. And if Protein World insists on keeping the ads up, at least we’re getting a ton of body-image boosting solidarity, and some seriously creative editing.