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Sadiq Khan is putting an end to body-shaming Tube adverts

The new Mayor of London is making an impact with small, meaningful decisions that will help change the city

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By Caroline O'Donoghue on

We sort of always knew that Sadiq Khan was a good sort. In his short few weeks as Mayor of London, Khan has already shown an adeptness at identifying the small problems he can fix, rather than the bigger, more systemic issues London heaves under. The £1.50 one-hour "hopper" bus ticket is a great example: allowing two bus journeys within an hour for the price of one. A small thing, sure, but it was refreshing to have a political leader come out and say: everywhere outside of Zone 2 is quite badly connected; have a cheaper bus ticket. 

Yesterday, Khan has shown a similar level of logic, empathy and pragmatism in his latest ruling: banning body-shaming adverts from London's TFL. Referring to the controversial Protein World "Are You Beach Body Ready?" adverts from last year, Khan said his two daughters were a motivator in banning such advertising.

“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.”

TFL's commercial development director, Graeme Craig, pointed out that TFL's advertising was unique to TV or magazine ads, in that "customers cannot simply switch off or turn a page if an advertisement offends or upsets them".

The reaction, as you can probably imagine, has been largely positive. 

Dissenting voices, as ever, have been present, with people (mostly men) saying that Sadiq has no right to moralise Tube adverts, citing his religion as his motivation. Others (entirely men) have said that censoring a poster that tells women to ingest excessive amounts of protein until they are desirable-looking enough to wear a bikini in public is equivalent to censoring the Venus de Milo or Michaelangelo's David. Sure. That's... that's, uh, a valid opinion. 

There are still lots of things that are wrong with London. In all likelihood, there always will be. No city can be wholly virtuous, in the same way no country can be. But, in a world of Brexits and Trumps, of politicians who would rather sling mud at each other on Twitter than get things done, it's refreshing to have someone like Khan in your corner. Someone who is, at least, trying, to fix things. 


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