CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 20, 2016 — London’s new mayor has announced that advertising on subways (the Tube) and buses that puts citizens under “pressure over body-shaming” will no longer be allowed.
That decision has been welcomed by some people; body-shaming is an issue of concern to feminists and others. But given that Sadiq Khan is London’s first Muslim mayor, his announcement has larger implications. Khan, the father of two teenage daughters, warned that such ads are “demeaning” to women, encouraging them to pursue unrealistic goals.
Ultimately, his edict represents the continued erosion of another free society in the face of Islam and Sharia law.
Many analysts have been wary of Khan’s elevation to mayor of a major Western capital due out of fear that he would attempt to impose Sharia thinking into the British legal system. Until now, Khan has kept a relatively low profile since his election. But he has only been London’s mayor since last month.
Only a handful of ads have been affected by the ban so far. Last year a company named Protein World sparked controversy with a bikini-clad model facing the camera in a poster which read, “Are you beach body ready?”
The UK’s advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority, cleared the promotion even though it received nearly 400 complaints for being socially irresponsible. A protest in Hyde Park attracted a petition on the Change.org website with more than 70,000 signatures. Protesters referred to the display as “body-shaming.”
Hyde Park has long been famous for its “Speakers Corner” where anyone can speak out about virtually any subject on Sunday mornings. Speakers Corner is a favorite spot for tourists who gather to observe the unique spectacle and to see which amateur orator can draw the largest audience.
In a statement issued by Khan, the mayor said, “I am extremely concerned about this kind of advertising which can demean people, particularly women, and make them feel ashamed of their bodies. Nobody should feel pressurized, 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.”
While Khan’s decree received thousands of votes of confidence supporting his move, there should also be concern over the larger implications it may have in the future. Advertising has always incorporated unrealistic images of both sexes in its efforts to sell products.
The list is endless and, in fact, often the images that flash across television screens or that are displayed in posters and on billboards have little or nothing to do with the product that is being promoted.
That is not to say that Sadiq Khan and his supporters do not have a point that should be heard. But it does mean that Londoners should exercise caution in allowing a small measure like this one to expand into broader, less acceptable infringements upon their freedoms and liberty.
Khan claims the economic impact on local ground transportation services would not be affected by the ban over the next eight years. Anticipated revenues during that period are expected to be close to two billion dollars.
Certainly the story should not have taken attention away from the terrorist attack in Orlando. But it does bear watching, considering the growing Muslim population in London and the favored extremist inch-by-inch tactic that encourages a city’s residents to yield small bits of freedom until the erosion extends far beyond any ability to stop it.
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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