UK

Dame Tessa Jowell Calls For Crackdown On 'Sexist' Tube Adverts

12/08/2015 17:27 BST | Updated 12/08/2015 17:59 BST
Catherine Wylie/PA Wire
File photo dated 27/04/2015 of a Protein World advert displayed in an underground station in London, as the controversial "beach body ready" campaign was not offensive or socially irresponsible and would not have shamed women into believing they needed to take a slimming supplement, the advertising watchdog has ruled.

The woman tipped to succeed Boris Johnson as Mayor of London has called for "sexist" adverts to be struck from underground stations and buses.

Dame Tessa Jowell, previously a long-serving Labour MP, has vowed to crackdown on campaigns like the contentious "are you beach body ready?" series, which inflamed tempers across the nation's capital last year.

The former Olympics minister and mayoral hopeful has surged ahead in the polls, and is favourite to win in the May election taking place next year.

Speaking out on Wednesday, Dame Tessa slammed sexist adverts on public transport, saying that women ought to be able to travel in an environment that did not constantly demean or disempower them.

“Young women need support to be more confident about their bodies and their life chances. They need help to ensure they have the confidence to focus on their talents rather than their tummies," she told the Evening Standard.

The 13-year-serving ex-Dulwich and West Norwood MP called on transport bosses to draw up tighter guidelines that would banish "unrealistic body images" from poster sites in stations, on buses, and on Tubes across London's sprawling transport network.

tessa jowell

Dame Tessa said so-called sexist adverts could "destroy women's confidence"

A backlash sparked by last year's Protein World advert saw a petition calling for its removal reach over 70,000 signatures, while a rival appeal to keep the campaign's posters up attracted the support of just 1,000.

Other media campaigns hounded for sexism include a currency converting company encouraging customers to "swap your missus for a Swedish supermodel", and a bus company's ad featuring a naked woman holding a sign that reads: "Ride me all day for £3."

Dame Tessa has previously hit out at the "sexism" afforded to women politicians too, decrying questions asked by a Mail on Sunday journalist to Labour leadership hopeful Liz Kendall about how much she weighed.

"No man would ever be asked how much he weighed; no man would be told he looked very slim - or asked how he could be an MP with his young children," she told the newspaper some days later.

"I hope that, in time, that will start happening and there will be an equalisation of expectations between men and women.

"But there still is a lot of sexism - expectations of women that men are not expected to meet. It is sexism but it's so pernicious, we almost need a new word for it," she said.

Alan Johnson has recently backed Jowell's bid for London mayor, writing in an email to party members that Jowell was "Labour's Kylie", adding, "everyone loves her and she only needs a first name".

His remark prompted this photoshop from The Sun newspaper, depicting Dame Tessa as global pop star Kylie Minogue, in a screengrab from the Australian's famous "Spinning Around" music video.

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