Gym accused of 'fat-shaming' with controversial poster campaign

Fit4Less gym has put out another poster that was supposed to be funny, but has ended up offending people instead...

A budget gym chain has caused controversy after a new poster appears to offer 'fat & ugly' people the chance to 'just be ugly' by using their gyms.

The Fit4Less poster, which shows a green monster with the words 'Tired of being... fat and ugly? Just be ugly...' has been met with uproar from social media users and anti-bullying campaigners, who claim that the poster is offensive, fat-shaming and sending a negative message.

Anti-bullying charity Combat Bullying has spoken out about the poster, saying that it could make bullying amongst children worse. Natalie Harvey from the charity says: 'I don't understand why we are using these kinds of advertising. It's almost like shaming people.'

The fact that the poster is placed outside a family supermarket in Sawley has also been raised as an issue, with some saying it exposes children to the message that being overweight is something to be ashamed of.

Fit4Less have defended their advertising, saying that it was meant to be 'light-hearted fun'.

'Fit4less is a brand that doesn't take itself too seriously, the campaign is intended to be seen as light-hearted fun and we certainly don't mean to cause offence.

'By adopting a light-hearted approach we can reach a wider audience and gain the attention of people who wouldn't usually respond to traditional gym advertising.

'It's obviously humorous, it's got a great, fluffy, Shrek-y teddy bear on it. It's supposed to be eye-catching, it's supposed to get people talking about fitness and, if people come down, they will see all shapes and sizes – we're friendly and fun.'

Reactions to the campaign have been mixed, with lots of social media users offering their opinions:

'I like both the ads. They're a nice break from the traditional noise you see on billboards all the time, ain't cutting through the noise the whole point?'

'Who would use #fat-shaming on a billboard? #Fit4Less apparently.'

'I suppose @ASA_UK think this is an ok form of advertising too? I tell my kids the words FAT & UGLY are cruel!'

This isn't the first time Fit4Less have come under fire for a controversial campaign. Back in April another of their posters was met with criticism (opens in new tab) for showing an alien alongside the words, 'They're coming… and when they arrive they'll take the FAT ones first! Save yourself!'

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At the time, Natalie Harvey commented saying 'this week alone three cases have been brought to my attention of children being bullied because of weight issues.

'If those children or the perpetrators saw this poster it would cause further harm for the children who are being bullied. The poster should be removed and replaced with something more tasteful to attract the gym goers.'

Kerry Matthews from Fit4Less spoke out about the poster, saying, 'We really didn't mean it offensively. It was supposed to be a bit cheeky, hence the alien image, and grab people's attention in a couple of seconds. So many campaigns use ultra skinny people and that's not the reality.'

What do you think - are the posters just a bit of fun or are they seriously offensive? Let us know in the comments below!

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