Byline: BRIAN McIVER
IT was the biggest social craze of the last decade. It invented a new vocabulary of non-offensive words and outlawed behaviour previously considered harmless and fun.
But political correctness, or PC-ness, could be about to disappear forever.
The American-originated trend, which spelled the end for lavish lifestyles and dirty jokes, was one of the most over-used terms of the last 10 years.
"Challenged" became the PC word for describing people with disabilities or distinctive physical attributes. Small people weren't short, they were vertically-challenged.
It wasn't acceptable or tolerated to refer to women as sex objects or wear the coat of a dead animal.
But, with fashion starting to embrace fur again and the launch of new advertising campaigns focusing on semi-naked models, experts claim "PC" is rapidly becoming "credibility- challenged".
The swing against the craze has been highlighted by the return to popularity of the Miss World contest, which was almost killed off by PC- obsessed TV executives in the 1990s, and the increasing number of celebrities returning to real fur.
And the shift in thinking has been highlighted this week with the relaunch of the controversial Big D peanut advertising campaign, featuring busty and scantily-clad models.
The 1970s Big D peanuts promotions featured semi-naked girls on the cardboard display backing for the packets.
It came to an end in the 1980s as political correctness made the sexy images unfashionable.
But the marketing team behind the new adverts believe the time is right to bring them back.
Big D head of marketing Rob Woodall said: "We spoke to consumers and everyone said they best remembered the old campaigns featuring our girl Beverley. We felt that, with the current climate and the success of magazines such as Loaded, FHM and Front, there is permission now to bring them back.
"I don't think people take themselves as seriously these days. Life is too short to worry about these things."
The nuts campaign comes a few months after a resurgence in interest in the famous Tennents Lager lovelies, who were ditched at the height of political correctness in 1992.
The scantily-clad beer mascots recently featured in a TV documentary which re-united the girls and although Tennents say there are no plans to bring the girls back, they refused to rule out the possibility.
But one of the biggest dents to political correctness has been the return to prominence of the formerly vilified Miss World beauty contest.
Now a popular annual TV event on Channel 5 or Sky, the swimwear and evening dress specialists disappeared from our screens during the 1990s after it fell out of fashion.
But the new change in public mood has brought it back into the spotlight. …