The U.K.’s Advertising United Standards Authority is considering regulations to respond to complaints of “sexism” in advertising — including concerns that women in a lot of ads are basically too attractive.
According to a release published by the watchdog on Thursday, ads that present “an idealised or unrealistic body image . . . have gained considerable public interest,” and so it’s important to evaluate whether or not more needs to be done to stop them.
(The phrase “unrealistic body” refers to bodies like that of the woman featured in a Protein World ad last year that caused that huge controversy in the U.K. over her attractiveness. In other words: It refers to people who are really hot.)
“The project will report on whether we’re getting it right on gender stereotyping in ads,” the release continues. “If the evidence suggests a change in regulation is merited we will set out the best way to achieve it.”
Now, the ASA is still in the research phase on this question, so what exactly those kinds of regulations might look like remains undetermined. (I mean, would there be some sort of governmental body that would have to say, “Okay, that lady is non-hot enough to appear in an ad,” before it’s allowed to be published?)
But the Chief Executive of the ASA, Guy Parker, said that the group is “serious” about it.
“We’re serious about making sure we’re alive to changing attitudes and behaviours,” he said, according to the release. “That’s why we’ve already been taking action to ban ads that we believe reinforce gender stereotypes and that are likely to cause serious and widespread offence, or harm.”
Personally, I’d argue that if seeing a picture of a hot lady actually causes you “harm,” then that’s probably more of your own issue than the government’s. In fact, I’d say that government intrusion into this area is not only an egregious overreach of power — but also staunchly anti-feminist. After all, the ASA’s suggestion that enough women are so weak as to be so seriously harmed by pictures of attractive people that something like this would be necessary seems pretty damn condescending to me.
I’m a woman, and I’m far from happy to hear that the ASA has “already been taking action to ban ads” based on these concerns. In fact, I’m offended . . . yes, even more offended than I am by the fact that people who model their faces and bodies for a living often have good-looking bodies and faces.
According to the release, the ASA’s study will also examine “objectification and sexualisation of women in ads,” “the mocking of women and men in non-stereotypical roles, the reinforcement of stereotyped views of gender roles, and gender-specific marketing to children.”