Loblaws in Canada removed a copy of the National Enquirer from some of its stores after a local schoolteacher's rant about its "Best and Worst Beach Bodies" cover story created a stir on Facebook.
In an "open letter" to Loblaws that had been shared more than 14,000 times on Facebook (with 66 'likes'), Brandon Field, a teacher based in eastern Newfoundland, noted in early December that the Dec. 3rd National Enquirer issue displayed on its cover numerous photos of female celebrities with captions such as "Beauty, blubber and cellulite," "Belly disaster" and "Larger than life."
"More and more, we are seeing the detrimental effects of bullying in our school system," wrote Mr. Field in the letter. "These magazines, which are displayed prominently at every checkout, are a very real form of bullying. What's more, they further perpetuate the idea that women should have flawless bodies, thereby exacerbating the problem of negative body image, particularly among female youths, but also among all sexes and age groups."
He added, "As a schoolteacher, how am I to demonstrate to my students the importance of treating others with respect when everywhere they look society is sending a message to the contrary?"
According to Global News, Mark Boudreau, Loblaws' director of corporate affairs for the Atlantic Region, responded to Mr. Field's letter by removing the publication from the company's stores in the Newfoundland region. He also said that while sales performance and popularity are factors in deciding which magazines to sell, the company is sensitive to offending customers.
"We are mindful of the type and quality of magazines that appear on our racks, and we do take proactive measures," Mr. Boudreau wrote. "For example, we have advised certain publishers to bag their magazines to reduce the likelihood of potentially offensive material and we work [with] our wholesale distributor to provide an advanced warning whenever an authorized magazine is about to be released that is in controversial taste. We then review the cover and make an appropriate decision."
The Huffington Post noted that a 2010 study published by Girl Scouts and the Dove Self-Esteem Fund found that nine out of ten teenage girls feel the fashion industry and/or the media puts intense pressure on them to be thin. Nearly half of the women surveyed (47 percent) felt that only the most attractive women are portrayed in popular culture.
The Huffington Post also noted that publications like Vogue and Seventeen have pledged to showcase healthier depictions of women's bodies.
Should Loblaws have kept, covered or pulled the 'offensive' tabloid issue from its checkout lanes?