Victoria Beckham is reportedly taking legal advice after a fish and chips restaurant brands her as an “anorexic fashion icon,” and compares its thin pizza crusts to her body frame.
Sidhu Golden Fish and Chips in Battle Hill, North Tyneside, declares its pizza crusts are thinner than the former Spice Girl on an advertisement on the back of its delivery fan.
A caricature of Beckham has a sash draped over her body that reads “Anorexic Fashion Icon,” and pointing to her body is the phrase, “This Is not thin!” while the words “This Is thin!” are pointing to a pizza. The top of the ad reads, “Our new Victoria Beckham Thin Crust only 2 mm thin!”
“It is highly inappropriate to trivialize such a disorder and defamatory to be so thoughtless with a person’s reputation in this way,” a spokesperson for Beckham said, reported by The Telegraph. “Therefore, we are taking legal advice.”
— Nathan Lee (@NathanLeeTV) August 8, 2017
The manager of the shop, Soni Sidhu, wrote a statement on the restaurant’s Facebook page: “I as the manager and on the behalf of all our staff and owners would like to state we recognize how serious eating disorders are and would never make light the seriousness of people with eating disorders.”
He continued: “We would like our customers and all people in general to take our advertising in context… We are not a fly by night business trying to make a quick buck. Anorexia and any mental illness are very serious.”
The restaurant came under fire after a spokesperson for the eating disorders charity Beat, said: “At Beat, the U.K.’s eating disorder charity, we work for a society where those with eating disorders are free of stigma and misunderstanding. We still have a way to go, but recently, mental health has taken a step forward with lots of good work achieved by charities and media outlets.”
“This advertisement is completely inappropriate; it trivializes the struggles people with eating disorders face and compromises the steps that have been taken to increase understanding of eating disorders.”
SEED Eating Disorder Support Services claimed that the advertising scheme “puts people at genuine risk” of eating disorders.
Marg Oaten, the secretary and co-founder of SEED, said earlier: “Twenty per cent of people who suffer from an eating disorder die each year. To trivialize anorexia in a pizza advert is appalling. There has been a lot of good work done around mental health recently, especially by the Royals, in reducing the stigma attached to eating disorders. This is a step in the wrong direction. The people responsible for this should hang their heads in shame.”
Oaten continued: “The advert puts people at genuine risk. Those who suffer from eating disorders are constantly battling with their feelings and thoughts. They will see the advert and start comparing themselves to the size of Victoria Beckham. These people need to be brought to account. There should be legislation banning this kind of thing.”
Sidhu did confirm he would take down the sign if they receive a complaint in writing, which is yet to happen.
In a statement to ITV he added: “We would like our customers and all people in general, to take our advertising in context. It is offered as a fun way to make people smile, and to escape from the daily hustle and bustle of life.
“We would be genuinely horrified if anyone was genuinely offended. If, in 2017 Britain, we are asked to take down this advert, it will be a sad day for freedom of expression.”
Sidhu later shared an image showing that the image had been removed, insisting he hasn’t had an “official complaint” from Beckham.
“We know this isn’t what our customers would want,” he wrote. “But we as a business have never been about causing anguish for anyone. We would like to apologize to anyone who was hurt by what was printed. That would be the last thing we would have wanted.
“Please could we request no media organizations contact us for responses. We have had threatening calls and rude emails made to individuals, who come to work so then (sic) can better their lives.”
Beckham has fought back against criticism of her weight before, telling BBC radio in 2006, that “there’s a big difference between someone having an eating disorder and someone who is controlled about what they eat. There’s a big difference, and every now and then, of course, [I] go out and eat what I like. But I do try to be quite disciplined in the way that I eat.”
In 2015, she also defended the models in her fashion show, telling The Telegraph: “They’re young, they’re thin, but that doesn’t mean they’re ill.”
The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) is a Canadian non-profit providing resources on eating disorders and weight preoccupation.
If you need help, call 1-866-NEDIC-20 (toll free) or visit www.nedic.ca for more information.