Costa Coffee was today accused of glamourising ‘complex and dangerous surgery’ by covering a van with a cartoon image featuring mastectomy scars.
The UK’s largest coffee chain defended its use of the image to promote ‘inclusivity and diversity’ but was branded ‘crass and irresponsible’ and ‘absolutely bonkers’ – and there were calls for a boycott of the company on social media.
The image, depicting an androgynous-looking character wearing long shorts with scars below each nipple, is taken from a mural designed by the chain for Brightonand Hove Pride last year.
Use of the image on a mobile coffee van used at events around the country was condemned by feminist campaigners and people who had breasts removed due to cancer.
Tanya Carter, spokeswoman for child safeguarding campaign group Safe Schools Alliance, said: ‘It’s almost unbelievable that Costa would do something so crass and irresponsible as to use this image.
‘The executives clearly have no idea what message this conveys, that irreversible surgery on healthy female breasts is to be applauded. Is this really any way to sell coffee?’
Feminist writer Julie Bindel, who is concerned about the impact of trans activism on ‘vulnerable’ girls and young women, said: ‘I remember stories about when a woman was thrown out of a Costa shop (in 2018) because she was discreetly breastfeeding.
‘Are we not allowed to breast feed but you are allowed to celebrate a woman having breasts removed for reasons of social contagion and vanity? It’s absolutely bonkers.
‘What’s really scary about it is the actual mastectomy scars are seen as a badge of honour, as cool.’
Ms Bindel said she feared the promotion of breast removal was targeting young women unhappy with their bodies who did not identify with mainstream femininity.
She said: ‘I think back to how I was as a teenager, how I didn’t like my breasts. Had I been able to lose them, I would have gone down that route.
‘This dangerous ideology that you can mix and match your body by undergoing complex and dangerous surgery is horrific.
‘We used to be appalled by cutting healthy parts of our bodies off. We have a duty of care to those young people, often under 18s, who are children legally.
‘I want to see the surgeons, scientists, those who advocate and profiteer from healthy breast removal criminalised.’