A mobile spa service has found itself in hot water for using outdated gender stereotypes in its advert on the London Underground. The ad, for London-based beauty and wellness app USPAAH, shows a man with puppy dog eyes and the line: “Out with the guys ‘til 4am again…?! Keep her sweet with a spa mani/pedi at home,” with the hashtag #saveyourself.
Understandably, the poster has triggered a social media backlash from those who say it perpetuates the damaging belief that women can be appeased with stereotypically feminine gifts and are primarily concerned with their appearance.
Women travelling on the London Underground have been tweeting their disdain for the ad since the beginning of March.
The company took a defensive tone on Twitter in its response to the criticism. "Yes, yes how very dare one partner in a relationship buy the other a gift to say sorry?! Get us to the protest right now!" it wrote.
It later added: "We surveyed most annoying habits of partners. This was it in terms of light hearted reasons. This is not anti feminist in our mind."
USPAAH then took things a step further, calling the backlash against the ad sexist. "This is the kind of comment that really lets our side down. Uniformed, unsupportive of a biz set up by women to support busy women."
Indeed, the sexist undertones of the ad are surprising given that USPAAH was founded by a woman and is run by an all-female team.
Iglika Ghouse, founder and CEO of USPAAH, told Refinery19: "The campaign draws on funny anecdotal experiences of our own lives as strong independent business leaders, wives, partners and girlfriends. We stand by our advert wholeheartedly and we’re busy planning our next set of campaigns. Just because it is 2017 [it] does not mean couples don’t argue and as far as we are aware it's still ok to receive a gift as part of an apology."
Ghouse also said the company "take[s] working conditions seriously" and offers therapists flexible working hours, "which is especially helpful for mothers of young children; an area which is massively being exploited in the beauty industry."
Given that it's the 21st century, it's surprising how many adverts still manage to offend women with outdated, sexist stereotypes and misguided attempts to make us feel better about our bodies.
Recently, there was Zara's ill-advised 'love your curves' in-store advert, which peddled body positivity with the help of two ultra-slim models, and last year a Cardiff gym used a woman's half-naked bottom to advertise itself. Oh, and who could forget Protein World's notorious 'beach body ready' campaign?
And yet, there are still people who think we no longer need feminism.