The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) has announced that ads will no longer be able to depict harmful gender stereotypes. The new rule in the Advertising Codes states:
[Advertisements] must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.
This will apply to broadcast and non-broadcast media from 14 June 2019.
The announcement follows a public consultation, to which the Council responded in August. The consultation highlights themes that were raised in our 2017 report, Cosmetic procedures: ethical issues, particularly around pressure to conform to appearance ideals.
We particularly welcome CAP’s inclusion of the following scenarios that feature pressure to conform to an idealised gender-stereotypical body shape or physical features, which are now likely to be unacceptable in ads:
- “An ad that depicts a person who was unhappy with multiple aspects of their life, then implies that all their problems were solved by changing their body shape alone to conform to gender-stereotypical norms, without addressing other aspects of their life. This does not prevent responsible ads for weight loss products or services.
- Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives.”