The UK is banning harmful stereotypes in adverts and we’re thrilled (but not too much – wouldn’t want you to think we’re overemotional)

If I never see an ad like this ever again, it'll be too soon.
If I never see an ad like this ever again, it'll be too soon.

So girls are caring and emotional, while boys are strong and aggressive? 

You can expect to see our girls in tutus and plastic heels, playing with their dolls, while our boys are rummaging in the dirt, getting up to no good? 

What will our girls grow up to be then? Obedient housewives who can’t tighten a bolt? What about our boys? Manly men walking around with a spanner in their back pocket, just waiting to be called upon? 

Screw that. 

We’re getting pretty tired of society’s gender roles and stereotypes, especially when they’re placed upon our young and impressionable kids. 

I mean, if one more person stops me in the grocery store to say “Your son’s so cute” because my niece's wearing a blue shirt, someone’s going to have to hold me back before I reach for the wrench in my back pocket. 


Also read: Boys can have long hair too, and other truths for trolls

Hoping to rid society of these harmful stereotypes, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) set out a new set of rules at the end of last year. After advertisers were given six months to prepare, the new rules officially came into effect Friday, 14 June 2019. 

Explaining the reasoning behind the new rules ASA commented, “This change follows a review of gender stereotyping in ads by the ASA. The review found evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults and these stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes.” 

On their website they set guidelines of what would be considered harmful stereotyping: 

  • “An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess.”
  • “An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man’s inability to change nappies; a woman’s inability to park a car.”
  • “Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant  reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives.”
  • “An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (e.g. caring) needs to be handled with care.” 
  • “An ad that belittles a man for carrying out stereotypically ‘female’ roles or tasks.” 

And, just for good measure, they also included:

  • “An ad aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing."

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You mean we don’t have to pretend our boobs aren't leaking 24/7 and neglect our personal wellbeing?

You're saying we don't have to clean the pantry, scrub the floors and go to the grocery store, after sitting up all night trying to get baby to latch?

You're telling me we can just take a freakin' break, every now and then? 

We. are. thrilled.

But not too much. 

Just the right amount to not be considered overemotional. 

Chat back

How have you tried to avoid stereotypes when it comes to your kids? Have you spoken to them about it?

Tell us and we may publish your comments.

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