‘Fat & ugly’ gym poster promotes bullying, say critics

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A chain of fitness centers has come under fire after launching a controversial advertising campaign which asks prospective customers if they are “fat and ugly.”

Fit4Less has been criticized by the charity Combat Bullying for suggesting that being ugly requires a “cure.”

A spokesperson for the gym denied the posters are offensive, insisting they are a bit of “lighthearted fun.

The contentious billboard, in Sawley, Derbyshire, states bluntly: “Tired of being… Fat & Ugly? Just be ugly at Fit4Less.”

Combat Bullying founder Natalie Harvey condemned the billboard, saying it “absolutely disgusts.”

I was terribly bullied as a child to the point I was beaten up and had a broken arm, just because my hair was different,” she told the BBC.

I don’t understand why we are using these kinds of advertising. It’s almost like shaming people.”

Harvey has launched her own campaign against the advertisements on Twitter.

I suppose ASA [Advertising Standards Agency] think this is an ok form of advertising too? I tell my kids the words FAT and UGLY are cruel!” she tweeted.

The location of the billboard is also a source of contention for Harvey, who worries about its impact on children’s self-image.

If it’s near a pub or where adults frequent I’m not bothered, but it’s a big poster outside a family supermarket,” she told the BBC.

The gym said in a statement: “Fit4less is a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, the campaign is intended to be seen as lighthearted fun and we certainly don’t mean to cause offense.

By adopting a lighthearted approach we can reach a wider audience and gain the attention of people who wouldn’t usually respond to traditional gym advertising.”

Earlier this year Fit4Less courted controversy when it printed an advert featuring a UFO beaming up a person to the spaceship with the message: “They’re coming… And when they arrive they’ll take the FAT ones first!