‘Changing standards’

U.K.’s advertising authority bans ads that sexualize young women and promote gender stereotypes

Controversial weight Loss ad seen in Britain. (Twitter)

New rules from the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority, set to take effect in June 2019, will bar promotions that actively promote sexist stereotypes, sexualize young women, or suggest that transforming one’s body will improve one’s romantic prospects. The new rules, which were developed last year after the advertising regulator found itself unable to ban a “beach body” advertisement that was widely decried as sexist and harmful on social media, seek to limit the societal impact of ads that research showed reinforce stereotypes and passively “restrict the choices, aspirations, and opportunities of ad viewers.”

The ASA’s Ella Smillie, one of the developers of the new regulations, has rejected claims from critics who say that the group was forcing advertisers to be too politically correct. Research, she said, had shown that “advertising can reinforce harmful stereotypes” and “limit people’s choices or potential in life.” Advertisers themselves, she added, were also already in the process of phasing out “tired old tropes [that] don’t really work with consumers anymore.”

“We don’t see ourselves as social engineers, we’re reflecting the changing standards in society,” she explained. “It’s fine to show people undertaking gender-stereotypical roles such a woman cleaning. But if an advert showed a woman being solely responsible for cleaning up mess within a home while a man sits around with his feet up, then that would be a problem.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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