An advert featuring four muscular men and one toned woman has been accused of “contributing to body image pressures” felt by Londoners.
The ad, from fitness trainers LDN Muscle, can be seen in various locations around the London underground at the moment.
The striking image features brothers Max and Lloyd Bridger and twins James and Tom Exton, alongside popular Instagram star and blogger Alice Liveing (known more commonly as Clean Eating Alice).
While some have labelled the ad as “appalling”, others have argued that the image merely promotes a healthy lifestyle.
Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Danny Bowman, a 20-year-old who suffers from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) says he thinks images such as the LDN Muscle advert “contribute to male body image pressures”.
He adds that such images can be particularly damaging to those who suffer from mental illnesses such as anorexia, bulimia and BDD.
“It puts added pressure on men to look a certain way,” he says. “If I saw this ad I would feel huge pressure to look that way.
“This advert is not right and shouldn’t be looked at as the norm.”
Others on Twitter have also spoken out against the ad:
But not everyone agrees with the criticism the advert has received.
The company’s Facebook page is full of comments from fans showing their support for the ad, while on Twitter, many others have pointed out that the LND Muscle team promote a “healthy image”:
According to the LDN Muscle website, the team are passionate about promoting a body-type that is attainable if you’re willing to work hard.
“We are, and always have been 100% natural, using only legal, commonly available supplements- strictly no pro-hormones, steroids or performance-enhancing drugs,” the site reads.
“We are intent on spreading the natural ethos we all uphold. LDN Muscle aims to open people’s eyes to the dishonesty, false claims and naturally unattainable physiques that are sadly often sold to people with a gimmicky supplement or generic one size fits all plan.”
Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, LDN Muscle co-founder Tom Exton says the company has “no issue with promoting a healthy lifestyle, via the use of our company founders who are evidence of the training, nutritional advice and lifestyle included in our Guides, website and on social media”.
He adds: “The advert was not designed to exert any pressure on anyone to look a certain way, but provide an eye catching demonstration of what can be achieved.
“I work behind a desk in the city every day, seeing this poster on my commute too, so those physiques are certainly ‘attainable’.
“We believe any negative response is merely a symptom of the almost hyper-sensitive society we live in today and the need for some to look for ‘offence’ wherever they can find it. We haven’t taken it personally.
“It was a fairly small minority of negative remarks anyway and we have had a lot of support on our social media channels over the last few days mainly in support!
“Not only have the adverts opened up the discussion around male body image but we are now everywhere.
“It hasn’t changed our outlook at all, we will continue to help tens of thousands of people to reach their goals in an educated, sustainable and healthy way as we always have done. And we still won’t wear T-shirts if we don’t want to.”
The backlash against LDN Muscle’s tube ad seems reminiscent of the criticism Protein World received for their ‘Beach Body Ready’ ad last year.
The ad, which featured bikini-clad model Renee Sommerfield, was accused of “body shaming”, although the Advertising Standards Authority eventually ruled that is was “not offensive”.
What do you think about LDN Muscle’s ad? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @HuffPoLifestyle