This post originally appeared in Bad Reputation – a feminist pop-culture adventure – on 1 October 2012
This post is belated – I thought I’d lost these pictures on an old phone – but wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, I found them on my computer the other day.
Some time in 2010 or 2011 (I’m dating this by my handset) the Harley Medical Group started advertising plastic surgery on the tube. Images of pert models told women that they needed ‘new year, new confidence’. Plastic surgery is nothing new, but pushing that advertising on people as they go up the escalators was a new and unwelcome assault. “You’re on your way to work, by the way, have you considered that your tits could be better?” Then something wonderful happened: people started answering back. (Click on images for zoom.)
I was tickled to see a few with red printed ‘sexist shit’ stickers which I’d seen sold at a feminist event a couple of weeks before… but then more appeared. People were writing their own slogans on stickers and whacking them on as the escalator sped them past. At first I just saw them at Kings Cross where I commuted through every day. Then, little by little, I saw them in more and more places. More handwriting, more slogans. This was… a movement.
And then, as the posters went away, so the stickers did too. I noticed there was a second wave of plastic surgery ads a few months later which seemed to have toned down their rhetoric a little. Still crap that unnecessary surgery was being pushed on women but something seemed to have twigged with the advertisers, too. This level of crap will not stand. I salute you, culture-jammers of London. Long may you reign.