Royal College Of Midwives Apologises For Slimming World Ad 'Pressuring' Mums To Lose Weight

"I remember the ridiculous pressure to ‘get my figure back’ – and I am not having it!"

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The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has apologised for posting a Slimming World advert on its Facebook page, after a mum of three complained that it would put “pressure” on new mums to lose weight.

The post featured a photo of a mum with her baby, alongside the text: “Faye lost 2st with Slimming World.” It added a quote from Faye, saying: “After welcoming my little boy, I returned to group – and with their support I got back to my target.”

Elaine Gunn, 40, from Edinburgh, spotted the post on Facebook and says her initial response was “utter confusion and disbelief.”

Elaine Gunn

“I had my three boys in 2009, 2011 and 2013, but I remember the ridiculous pressure to ‘get my figure back’ – and I am not having it!” Gunn tells HuffPost UK.

“Who at the Royal College of Midwives could possibly have thought this was an appropriate partnership to enter into, or supportive messaging to endorse? I suspect that the campaign is a symptom of the systemic misogyny that is rife in our maternity services, and we have a responsibility to call it out.”

Elaine Gunn
Elaine Gunn
Elaine Gunn

The advert posted by RCM has since been deleted, but another version still features on the Slimming World Facebook page at time of writing. The second post uses the same image, but the caption text adds that Faye joined Slimming World “after receiving hurtful comments at a birthday party”.

Gunn questions why the company would want to celebrate someone being shamed into losing weight, adding that the wording “really isn’t consistent with the happy, positive story the imagery tells”.

Slimming World/HuffPost UK

The partnership between Slimming World and RCM is longstanding – the two groups have worked together since 2012.

They claim the collaboration is designed to “raise awareness in supporting pregnant women and breastfeeding mums in managing their weight”. Caryl Richards, Slimming World’s CEO, previously insisted that the group doesn’t “encourage weight loss or ‘dieting’ during pregnancy”.

But Gunn is frustrated that weight loss messages are being targeted at post-natal women, too.

“I struggle to believe that any responsible healthcare professional would suggest that weight loss should be a priority for women in the months after giving birth, but that’s exactly what this post seems to recommend,” she says.

“We are letting new parents down every day in this country – between under-funded, overstretched maternity services, a lack of basic support, dignity and autonomy in childbirth, and all but absent breastfeeding support. The RCM should be focusing their resources in these areas, rather than targeting vulnerable (and probably exhausted and overwhelmed) new parents with diet culture.”

In response to the complaint, RCM stood by the Slimming World partnership, calling the company “fantastic supporters of our Caring for You programme for members”.

“Their advice and support for pregnant women on healthy weight management during pregnancy is an important and useful tool for midwives and maternity support workers, who are only too aware of the risks to pregnancy and maternal health brought about by a raised BMI,” RCM said in a statement.

“We shared a post that did not reflect this, for which we apologise. We remain committed to working with Slimming World on their pregnancy weight management programme.”

A Slimming World spokesperson added: “Like the RCM, we’re extremely proud of our partnership and the work we’ve done together to provide support to women to manage their weight healthily before, during and after pregnancy. We never put pressure on women to lose weight or to be a certain size. The aim of the partnership is to offer support to those women who would like it given the significant risks excess weight poses for maternal health.”

They acknowledged that the posts by both RCM and Slimming World “could have been misinterpreted” and “apologise for any offence or upset this caused”.

“Our intention was to show new mums who may be worrying about their weight and health what is possible with the support and care of a Slimming World group,” they said.

Slimming World also emphasised that both posts were unpaid for social media posts, not a paid-for advertisement.

Gunn says she is glad the RCM post has been deleted, but expresses frustration at the ongoing partnership between RCM and Slimming World.

“I still think there are questions to be asked about why this was thought to be an appropriate campaign, and why Slimming World – an organisation that profits directly from the appalling demands we put on women to take up as little space as possible – was considered to be a suitable partner,” she says.