5 reasons why that Protein World ad caused unnecessary controversy


Sporadic vandalism, a formal ASA complaint and a protest in Hyde Park have marked the outrage against Protein World’s ‘Are you beach body ready’ ad. Are you beach body ready - Know your meme

Image via Know Your Meme

First things first: I do not support dieting and swift weight loss. Not in the slightest. I have changed my ways and know better. I eat seven times a day (c. 2200 kcals should you be interested, and I only occasionally keep track, for I would like to gain muscle which means I need food), I train six times a week and am the happiest I have ever been. I grunt every time I hear a woman (yes, a woman…) talk about ‘losing two kgs in a week’. It doesn’t work and it’s a total waste of time; not to mention damaging to your body. Simple.

With that said, I do not think for a second that Protein World was promoting the reckless undernourishment and obsessive calorie restriction I was into during my adolescence and early 20s. What it was, in fact, promoting was enhanced weight / fat loss for people who, presumably, needed it to then comfortably progress to toning up and muscle gain. A quick glance at their website reveals they are not an exclusively weight loss product company: they sell flaxseed powder, Omega 3, bedtime shakes, Whey Protein isolate, etc. The recipes they feature do not have the word ‘starvation’ plastered all over them.

However, someone out there – whilst blissfully travelling on the London tube - decided that an ad endorsing Protein World’s ‘Weight Loss Collection’, by means of a model in a bikini with the words ‘Are you beach body ready’, was offensive. Illegal even. And so the fiasco started…

How dare a business use a slender female to advertise a product that will, supposedly, help others lose weight?! Terms, such as ‘body shaming’, were thrown around like there was no tomorrow. Weight – a personal not public matter, if you ask me – was branded a ‘political and social issue’ once more. In a typical First World fashion, a Twitter war was declared and a few new hash tags were dutifully born. People vandalised the billboards, organised a protest and, get this, sent a bomb threat to the company’s headquarters. But, hey, it’s all in the name of social justice!

Without further ado and in my humble opinion, here are a few reasons as to why people blew the protein world ad way out of proportion in a predictably childish manner:

  1. Capitalism: I am not the best at Economics, but the demands of the market and competition drive Capitalism. Like it or not, we live in a Capitalist country whereby companies will strive to make profit. Marketing and Advertising were not invented by Protein World. Thousands of tricks are adopted daily to encourage you to spend your money on stuff you do not even need half the time. *shrugs* Why that protein world ad caused unnecessary scandal Image via giphy
  2. Democracy: Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, unless you anger the wrong crowd. Yes, democracy has a few founding principles and, would you believe it, freedom of speech and freedom of expression are among them?! What we increasingly see, nonetheless, is a perpetuating self-censorship with people unable to voice their opinion on anything without it insulting and triggering someone else. And causing a whirlwind of controversy by, say, creating a promo billboard. This article, too, will probably be frowned upon, since it does not follow the narrative currently imposed by the mainstream media. Why that protein world ad caused unnecessary scandal Image via giphy
  3. Self – esteem: Confidence and self-esteem come from within. People’s words do not affect me and ads certainly do not make me curl up in a ball and cry, because I do not care. But, you see, the people who do will never grow a thicker skin, if we teach them that the smallest, most insignificant problem can be solved by stamping their feet and kicking up a fuss.  And it is not overloading Twitter with comments re how Protein World is promoting an ‘unattainable body type and shape’ (hint: there is a real person behind this ad who eats properly and trains regularly; so, yes, this is an attainable body type and shape). If you are not willing to put in the hard work and have the will power and dedication to go on this journey, excuses will get you nowhere.

    Why that protein world ad is causing unnecessary controversy Image via giphy

  4. Women Magazines: It is hilarious how thousands and thousands of women are boycotting a company for their seemingly harmful ad, one that plays on women’s insecurities, yet are deafeningly silent on the subject of women’s magazines. The pages of the latter are littered with ‘tips’, ‘DOs and DONTs’ on fashion, style, beauty, diets, sex, etc. They are full of ‘you are not good enough’ statements that have conveniently escaped all of those rejecting Protein World. As if having eyebrows similar to those of Keira Knightley was less of a problem than taking weight loss supplements? As if learning how to attain J Lo’s style was not telling you how to dress to fit the present trend? What if I took offence in Cosmopolitan’s advice on how to ‘achieve the best complexion’ and the mere suggestion that suffering from acne during adolescence was a crime that had to be ‘concealed’ under a ton of foundation?

    Why that protein world ad caused unnecessary controversy Image via giphy

  5. Men’s quietness: Last but not least, I have never heard a large group of men protest against the six-packs they are expected to flaunt a la David Beckham in that Calvin Klein underwear ad. It might be because they are better at handling this sort of stuff, or equally, their complaints will not be tolerated because they come from..men. Weirdly, I am not aware of many women speaking of ‘body shaming’ when and where this and other images of ‘unrealistic’ male bodies are concerned. I wonder why… Why that protein world ad caused unnecessary controversy Image via giphy

Why the protein world ad caused unnecessary controversy

About the Author

Siya is a blogger with a passion for living a healthy lifestyle. She shares simple recipes, exercises, and writes about the importance of having a positive body image on her blog. Have feedback for Siya? Do you agree that the protein world ad caused unnecessary controversy? Let us know in the comments below!