An advertising campaign from Match.com, the online dating website, has come under increased fire after the charity Changing Faces described it as ‘more mismatch.com than match.com’.
The adverts, running on the London transport network, refer to freckles and red hair as ‘imperfections’. Whilst the ads encourage people to ‘love their imperfections’, Changing Faces said that they were ‘wide of the mark, increasing society’s anxieties about appearance.’
Henrietta Spalding, Head of Advocacy at Changing Faces, said:
People who have an unusual appearance spend every day dealing with people’s looks, stares, comments and worse. To have adverts on the underground that refer to very common types of appearance as ‘imperfections’ is as offensive as it is misguided – and these adverts just reinforce the negative body image messaging that’s all too prevalent.
Changing Faces says that as many as 1 in every 100 people in the UK have a condition, mark or scar that affects their appearance, but that freckles and red hair are more common physical features still. In some parts of the British Isles, as many as 1 in 10 people have red hair.
Ms Spalding continued:
People come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and with all sorts of different appearances and different personality traits. To label people as ‘imperfect’ based on their appearance, with a complete disregard for educational or career success, family and interests is narrow-minded and shallow. We just have to hope that Match.com’s customers aren’t as superficial as their advertising agency.
The company has faced criticism on social media channels, with a number of Twitter users challenging Match.com’s assertion that they are ‘imperfect’. On Twitter one user said: ‘Dear @Match – these are my #freckles, not my #imperfections – whether people like them or not.’
Update – 6.30pm, Tuesday 12 April 2016
Match.com have announced this evening that they will be removing the adverts ‘as soon as possible’, saying on Twitter that ‘our intention wasn’t to offend’.
Changing Faces has welcomed their decision and has publicly offered to assist the company to ensure its future ad campaigns are working towards face equality.