everyday sexism

Ads That Perpetuate Sexist Stereotypes May Soon Be Banned Under New U.K. Rules

Certain ads featuring Julia Roberts, Cara Delevingne, and Natalie Portman have already been banned. Photo: Getty Images

The U.K.’s advertising watchdog may soon ban ads that promote sexist stereotypes, such as men being bad at housework, boys being more academic than girls, and women having to clean up giant messes made by their family. The Guardian reports that the Advertising Standards Authority has proposed the new rules to crack down on ads that perpetuate gender stereotypes as part of an effort to address how women are portrayed in advertisements.

Under the new rules, ads that make it seem as though activities can only be done by one gender, “body shame” young women, or make fun of people for not conforming to sexist stereotypes will be banned. The proposals come shortly after the U.K. had a major “crackdown” on airbrushing, which led to major beauty ads featuring stars like Cara Delevingne, Julia Roberts, and Natalie Portman being banned. The authority has also already banned ads that include “unhealthily thin” models, the Guardian notes.

The proposals, which were highlighted in a report entitled Depictions, Perceptions and Harm, will also clarify the rules for ads that sexualize or objectify women and girls. “Our review shows that specific forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children,” Ella Smillie, lead author of the report, told the Guardian. “Such portrayals can limit how people see themselves, how others see them, and limit the life decisions they take. Tougher standards in the areas we’ve identified will address harms and ensure that modern society is better represented.”

However, the proposed rules aren’t a blanket ban of ads that include gender stereotypes. As the Guardian notes, ads would still show women cleaning the house or men building things, for instance, they’d just be subjected to further scrutiny under the new rules.

U.K. Set to Ban Ads That Perpetuate Sexist Stereotypes