Launch of the Campaign for Body Confidence

8 03 2010

The Liberal Democrats will host a panel debate on combating body image pressure felt by women and girls today in Parliament to mark International Women’s Day.

A panel of experts including former Clothes Show presenter Caryn Franklin and author of Fat is a Feminist Issue, Susie Orbach, will debate measures to tackle the harm caused by pressure to conform to unrealistic and unhealthy body image ideals.  Other attendees include Girlguides, Linda Papadopoulous and the world’s leading body image experts.

The event will mark the launch of the Campaign for Body Confidence.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone said:

“Since the Liberal Democrats launched the Real Women campaign last year, we have been inundated with messages of support from people who are fed up of the constant pressure to live up to totally unrealistic ideals of beauty.

“Unrealistic and unhealthy ideas of what’s beautiful mean people suffer with anything from low self-esteem to serious eating disorders, which is why we are launching the Campaign for Body Confidence.

“Politicians, media figures, modelling agencies, mental health experts and ordinary people will be asked to pledge to campaign against this dangerous trend.”

Commenting, Susie Orbach said:

“I welcome this debate.  The body image pressure on girls and women constitutes a public health emergency.  I hope that the Government will take urgent measures to prevent the commercial world preying on young girls.”

Commenting, Caryn Franklin said:

“All Walks Beyond the Catwalk is delighted to be involved in this pioneering debate. This fashion initiative has already introduced the idea of working with a range of models in size and age at London Fashion Week with the goal of offering aspirational yet realistic fashion imagery to women who may feel ill-served by what is currently in existence.”


Home Office review backs Lib Dem airbrushing proposals

26 02 2010

Jo Swinson MP has welcomed a Home Office report which recommends airbrushed adverts carry warning labels.

The report by Dr. Linda Papadopoulous, released today, looks into the sexualisation of children in the media and its impacts on their behaviour.
The Liberal Democrats’ Real Women campaign has been calling for action on airbrushing and the sexualisation of children.
Commenting, Jo Swinson said:

“The Government has been dismissive of Liberal Democrat proposals to tackle harmful airbrushing, but now the Home Office’s own review shows that this is issue which needs urgent action.

“Pressure on children to conform to unhealthy body image ideals is something many parents are extremely concerned about, and we welcome Dr. Papadopoulous’ report.  When it comes to children, airbrushed adverts aimed at them need to be banned.

“We will be holding a body image debate in Parliament on 8th March to take this important campaign forward.”

Psychiatrists back plans for airbrush kitemarks says Jo Swinson

23 02 2010

“Airbrushing has a really damaging impact on people’s self-esteem and that’s why we’ve called for a labelling system,” said the Liberal Democrat MP.

Commenting on today’s report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists calling for airbrushed images to be ‘kitemarked’, Jo Swinson said:

“The Royal College of Psychiatrists makes it crystal clear that airbrushing plays a harmful role when it comes to negative body image and eating disorders.

“Airbrushing has a really damaging impact on people’s self-esteem and that’s why we’ve called for a labelling system.

“Making sure children are taught to be media-savvy and getting ads which feature unrealistic, unattainable images to have a kitemark will be a real step forward.

“I’m meeting with the Advertising Standards Authority today to press these issues.”

Join the campaign for honesty in advertising

22 12 2009

A huge thank you to everyone who has so far supported our Real Women campaign for honesty in advertising!

You may have seen our initial success last week, when the ASA ruled that the Olay Definity advert featuring a retouched image of Twiggy was misleading.  However, the campaign continues, because the ASA refused to accept that the retouching was socially irresponsible.  You can read the full ASA ruling here:

This is simply not good enough. We now need to bombard the ASA with individual complaints about a whole variety of adverts so that it is forced to widen its investigation.

1. Choose an advert you would like to complain about and note where you saw it (e.g. magazine name, date and page number or billboard location). 

2. Compose your complaint, with reference to the relevant sections as appropriate (see below).

3. Send your complaint to is: ASA, Mid City Place, 71 High Holborn, London, WC1 V6QT or by email to (if possible, please copy in

Together I hope we will be able to force the ASA to address this issue properly. Remember that it only takes one complaint to push the ASA into an investigation – so taking the time to send an email can really make a difference.

Thanks again, and merry Christmas!


Jo Swinson MP


Advertising Codes:
Section 6 – Honesty: “marketers should not exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers”
Section 7 – Truthfulness: 7.1 “no marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise”
Section 9 – Fear and Distress: 9.1 “no marketing communication should cause fear or distress without good reason”
Section 47 – Children: 47.2 marketing communications addressed to, targeted at or featuring children should contain “nothing that is likely to result in their physical, mental or moral harm

ASA Bans ‘Misleading’ Twiggy Advert

16 12 2009

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today ruled against an Olay advert containing a heavily airbrushed image of the model Twiggy on the grounds that it was misleading following a campaign led by the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats have called for airbrushed ads to be clearly labelled, and for airbrushing to be banned in adverts aimed at children. I hope this decision marks the first step in really getting airbrushing in advertising under control.

If advertisers think that someone as beautiful as Twiggy needs to be so heavily airbrushed, then what hope is there for the rest of us? Experts have already proved that airbrushing contributes to a host of problems in women and young girls such as depression and eating disorders.

Liberal Democrats believe in the freedom of companies to advertise but we also believe in the freedom of women to be as comfortable as possible with their bodies.  They shouldn’t constantly feel the need to measure up to a very narrow range of digitally manipulated pictures.

In November, the world’s leading experts on body image issues sent a paper to UK advertising authorities condemning the use of ultra-thin, digitally altered women in adverts, and backing the Liberal Democrats’ campaign to curb harmful airbrushing.

See the full paper: The Impact of Media Images on Body Image and Behaviours

News Reports of the Ruling

The Guardian: Twiggy’s Olay ad banned over airbrushing

BBC: Airbrushed Twiggy photo ‘misleading’

Latest Real Women News

13 10 2009
Jo Swinson
On this site, we set out the the aims of the Real Women campaign and cover everything from childcare and the pay gap, to airbrushing.
Take care,
Jo Swinson