Ads Gone Bad: The Worst Body-Shaming Advertisements

Advertising still relies on our collective bad body image to drive home its messages.
Offensive Ads
PETA was forced to take down this billboard after a public backlash against the animal rights group. (Photo: Tumblr)

Body-shaming in the advertising industry is an age-old tactic. Women have always been urged to fix all that is inherently undesirable about them, and judging from advertising’s history, that constitutes an infinite list of gaffes to be improved upon, eradicated, or hidden.

But it’s no longer a practice relegated to beauty and fashion ads—or to women. Shaming people in general about their physical appearance is now easily visible in campaigns ranging from pro-vegan advertisements to billboards encouraging childhood health.

It may be we’ve gotten so used to body shame, we don’t even see it anymore. But the longer we accept a singular, narrowly defined version of health and beauty, the longer we’ll accept that making people feel bad about themselves is not only “helpful,” but it’s also deserved.

Scroll down for some of the most overt body shaming ads from past and present campaigns.

From Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, these were part of a campaign aimed at encouraging people to eat a plant-based diet.

offensive ads

offensive ads

This came from AshleyMadison.com, a website that encourages people to cheat on their partners. 

offensive ads

Georgia‘s Strong4Life campaign last year came under fire for humiliating kids, and using scare tactics in a misguided attempt to turn the tables on childhood obesity

offensive ads

Bypost is a company that sells iPhone apps. But over the summer, they sent this (now deleted) tweet warning consumers not to offend anyone with their choice of dress. 

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Categories: Sex

One Comment on “Ads Gone Bad: The Worst Body-Shaming Advertisements”

  1. dirk_gently
    February 18, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    Oddly, I do not see the advertisements as aimed wholly at women. Are we becoming too sensitive and outraged? Frankly overeating is a problem in most of the western world and now shock tactics are being used to discourage people from doing it. It is working because people are shocked. Whether they are so shocked they need a big mac and chips to calm down is another thing.

    Next they will be trying to stop people smoking. How very dare they.

    I guess some of the wording could do with an edit though.

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