Ballerinas & Princesses Out, UK Cracks Down on Sexist Advertising

Subliminal gender stereotypes are omnipresent in daily life, but Britain is now committing to reduce this antiquated reality by putting a definitive ban on TV adverts that adhere to the typical social constructs of the female and male role. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has announced that, from now on, any advertisement casting young girls in roles such as ballerinas/princesses and their male counterparts as rocket scientists/mathematicians will not be allowed to show on TV.

This comes as a welcome extension of the recent legislation enforced by the ASA, with the backing of advocate Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, to ban any form of sexist advertisement, for example, the now notorious ‘Beach Body Ready’ billboard campaign from US firm Protein World that sparked huge social media backlash. The new rules will hopefully make a massive improvement to the information that is fed to children and teenagers, who will subconsciously take on the images that they are seeing in these adverts often shown in the commercial breaks for kids’ TV shows. As well as depictions of children, any adverts showing women in the traditional housework environment while the man fails to participate in chores will also be targeted.

To support this planned crackdown, the ASA launched the largest ever analysis into advertisements that potentially objectify women, ranging from beauty ads with airbrushed images of Natalie Portman and Cara Delevigne to the Gap Kids advert featuring the young boy as the “Little Scholar”, while the young girl is depicted as the “Social Butterfly”. Commenting on the aim of this heightened scrutiny, ASA chief executive Guy Parker said, “Portrayals which reinforce outdated and stereotypical views on gender roles in society can play their part in driving unfair outcomes for people. While advertising is only one of many factors that contribute to unequal outcomes, tougher advertising standards can play an important role in tackling inequalities and improving outcomes for individuals, the economy and society as a whole.”