Beach Body Ready one year on

Protein World shocked the UK with its fatphobic adverts a year ago, but we ask if the backlash has really changed anything.

Editor: Bethany Rutter

Protein World’s adverts made big waves in the UK, but have we learned anything?

If you missed it at the time, the ‘Beach Body Ready’ campaign was an ill-advised poster by Protein World, encouraging us to buy their supplements to ensure we are, as they say, beach body ready. The fact they illustrated it with a very slim model in a bikini would rather imply that in order to be beach body ready, you had to slim down until you were an acceptable size, otherwise you should be booted off the beach.

People really didn’t like it. There were parodies, angry tweets and even a real-life protest against the campaign. But that was a year ago… and has anything changed?

On the one hand, it marked a turning point in what we will accept. It was a moment where we asserted our boundaries to show just how far we’ll let brands use messages of shame and fear to buy their products. The fury it provoked was quite all-encompassing, and it was amazing to see a moment of such collective hatred against such a body-negative message. Since then, it seems like a lot of brands have got wise to the idea that outright hostility towards ‘unacceptable’ bodies is unfashionable and outdated. Brands are moving away from the Protein World model and into a mode of ’empowerment’ that’s often pretty toothless because it’s just a marketing gimmick.

But on the other hand, has anything really changed? It’s not like Protein World were or are the only people to believe in their message. It’s still totally expected that women will diet before they hit the beach. Women’s magazines are full to bursting with weight loss-focused diet and exercise ‘information’ that increases exponentially in the leadup to summer. There is a desirable beach body: slim, toned, but curvy. That hasn’t changed. The backlash against Protein World was a moment, but the culture that enabled the ads prevails.

Bethany Rutter

Editor: Bethany Rutter

Social content executive at navabi. Body-positive warrior and fashion obsessive. Likes looks and books.

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