Finally, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) – the body responsible for writing the UK Advertising Codes – is consulting on new rules that would ban cosmetic surgery adverts on content directed at children.
This is in response to mounting concerns amongst psychologists, health professionals, teachers and journalists like me who are distressed to see teenagers being targeted with positive content about breast enlargement and other popular surgeries.
Cosmetic Surgery Advertisement Proposals.
- The rules will outlaw cosmetic surgery advertisements around all media; including TV programmes and online content that is geared toward under-18s or likely to appeal to young audiences.
- In practice, this means that viewers of shows targeted towards young people would no longer be subjected to breast enlargement offers during airtime.
- The age-based restrictions would span the targeting, scheduling and placement of such ads, outlawing any association to media with specific appeal to audiences aged 18 and under.
- The procedures set to fall foul of the toughened rules include breast enlargements, nose jobs, and Botox treatments.
- Cosmetic products such as creams, makeup and hair care products would be unaffected.
- The measures have been driven by public health concerns around the insecurities generated by external body image pressures on young people.
- Fears have also been expressed about the risks of side-effects and complications arising from unnecessary surgical interventions.
- The promotion of cosmetic surgery will still be permitted for adults.
This is all part of a broader package of regulations to mitigate the harm caused by showing particular body images in advertisements. So it means that bloggers such as Sarah Ashcroft can't talk about disliking her body before having a boob job. Arah said in a TV promotion “I never really looked at any part of my body past my neck because it wasn't something I liked.”
Statements like that will be prohibited under the new regulations. I am really delighted that this is being dealt with. Obviously I am all in favour of cosmetic surgery and the ‘right to beauty' but I do not want young people being made to feel insecure so that they jump into having procedures that are life-changing and unnecessary just to top up the profits of cosmetic clinics. Also, I am concerned that encouraging teenagers to get cosmetic procedures will normalise it and provide a gateway for cosmetic abuse as they get older.
In 2018 the Mental Health Foundation complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about adverts for breast enhancement during Love Island. Made for the clinic MYA, these depicted scantily clad women dancing and laughing around a swimming pool, beach and boat.
At the time, Isabella Goldie, the director of the charity, said: “Implying that people can only enjoy body confidence and an aspirational lifestyle by undergoing cosmetic surgery is dangerous and unacceptable.”
Research by the charity last year suggested that 37 per cent of teenagers felt upset about their body.
It is a start. Obviously social media platforms such as Instagram Tik Tok and YouTube will carry on posting videos by ‘influencers ‘ – that is still ‘the wild west' but every step in the right direction is worth applauding.