News ≫ Sri Lankan women take on ‘body shaming’ barrel ad

Sri Lankan women take on ‘body shaming’ barrel ad

Jan 28, 2018
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The hoarding for Osmo gym went up in a Colombo suburb last week and the row almost instantly made it on to social media. Both men and women shared pictures of the billboard along with expressions of outrage and disgust at the “blatant sexism” and “body shaming” depicted.

Some began a hashtag campaign entitled #BoycottOsmo, while others tagged the organization on Facebook asking them to take down the hoardings and apologise. However the gym did not respond, and a post featuring the images used in the billboard stayed pinned to the top of their Facebook page.

“The ad was nothing very different from the typical objectification and sexist usage of women by the ad industry, which has been selling anything from cars to perfume by sexualising women and their bodies,” Marisa de Silva, an activist, told the BBC. “But this ad also attempted to body shame by dictating to women the ideal shape they should resemble, almost as though it is the sole basis of their worth.” So, along with a group of women who had been discussing the billboard on social media, she decided to do something about it.

One of them, who did not want to be identified, tried calling Osmo’s marketing manager to complain, and was told that the hoarding had used an image that had not been “approved” by the company. He did not offer to take it down. A few others decided to approach Harsha de Silva, the minister in charge of the Kotte constituency where the billboard was put up. He responded with the tweet: “I asked the Colombo MC Commissioner to remove this unapproved offensive hoarding. I would not tolerate this in Kotte.”

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