Protein World

Protein World

by Dr Emma Gray - 29th April, 2015

Another week and another unpredictable storm leaps out of social media and into the mainstream. Unfortunately this one again involves mental health issues and the sexist abuse of women.

Juliette Burton (, actress, writer, comedian, body image campaigner, self-confessed sufferer of longstanding and serious mental health issues and all round brave person, took exception to the above advert and did what thousands of others have done and signed a petition calling for the removal of the posters for being offensive and setting an unrealistic expectation of what a woman’s body should look like.

After signing the petition she tweeted a link to it, with a succinct, clearly heartfelt and personal to her, comment that explained why she was concerned about the poster and why its content was damaging.

 Which makes the response from Protein World all the more surprising.

The winking emoji seems especially ill placed and indicates a total lack of compassion or understanding for the difficulties people with low self-esteem, low self-worth and low self-confidence face on a minute by minute, day by day basis.

A company operating in the body image / health industry must act appropriately and be mindful of these issues, as should we all.

It begs the question – Why did Protein World act in this Way?

People suffering with mental health issues are ill. And their illnesses are often serious. Are they still ‘normal’? Yes. Do we have to treat them differently to other people? No. Assuming you treat everyone with respect and do not laugh or belittle these difficulties.

If you are one of these people then it’s probably time to pause and have a look at yourself and understand why you feel the need put others down to make yourself feel better. Bullies are seldom happy, self-confident individuals with fulfilled lives.

Which leads us Arjun Seth, the CEO of Protein World, himself an individual who perhaps unsurprisingly it seems (if the pictures of him on his various media outlets are too believed) puts an inordinate amount of thought and self-conscious attention into his body image, and the comments he personally made towards Juliette Burton.

What’s so surprising about his comments is both the tone and content and that there was no prior discourse, they just went straight in to the abuse.

The comments, as you can see, seem designed to cause offence and controversy.


The claim of the bigot is often that they themselves are having their ability to act and speak freely curtailed by another.

In this scenario they’ll mock and dismiss the opposing persons view in such a way as to deliberately cause offence. For them it is not enough to disagree they have to attack and belittle, which is indicative of a very fragile ego and consistent with low self-esteem in that person.

Protein World are effectively saying that they can act and promote their business without reasonable limits, consequences or thoughts for others, yet anyone pulling them up on this and expressing their view is told they do not deserve the same rights and that they are fat or lazy or even terrorists?!

As you’d expect many have spoken out on both sides. The thoughtful and considered responses are mindful of other people and respect their role in a cohesive society. The other side counts Katie Hopkins in their number.

If you are suffering with any of the issues discussed in this article and would like to seek professional help then you may find our Eating Disorders Page helpful.

Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleagues once described me as a natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.

Read more about my approach to counselling here...

View all my other articles here...

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  • ChraveTechnology 30/04/2015 Reply

    Brilliant article, I don’t suppose Protein World will care as I’m sure they will be selling more to new customers due to “no such thing as bad publicity” but even so I hope existing customers of theirs will consider buying things from their competitors instead as I’m sure some of their competitors will have a much better view about mental health.

  • Janet Avery-Ward 30/04/2015 Reply

    I wasn’t actually too offended by the posters as I’m keen on fitness and it’s no worse than what happens in daytime tv programs and those trashy magazines, however the comments made by the company are disgusting. I shall never use their services. Buy My Protein stuff instead!

  • emil 30/04/2015 Reply

    Completely agree with Janet. Ad itself wasn’t as bad as Protein Worlds comments, they make them look like douchebags, which they probably are

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