Banned cosmetic surgery advert ‘likely to cause harm’ to teenagers

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An ‘irresponsible’ cosmetic surgery advert featuring a young fashion blogger discussing her dislike of her body has been banned for being likely to cause harm to teenagers.


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The ad featuring fashion blogger Sarah Ashcroft, alias That Pommie Girl, was screened on television in April.


It showed the social media star discussing her breast enlargement surgery and the positive impact she feels it had on her life. 


In the advert, the fashion blogger says: ‘I feel like a new person from having nothing to then looking at yourself with boobs.


‘It was the weirdest thing because then everyone was like “wow, they look so natural I’m so impressed”. And to come away from it feeling 10 times more confident than you were I think is just an amazing feeling.’


But the Advertising Standards Authority say they received a complaint from someone who ‘believed the ad exploited young women’s insecurities about their bodies by implying that breast-enhancement surgery would make them more confident and popular’.


The complainant also challenged whether the advert was harmful and irresponsible to under 18s.


After deliberation, the regulatory body upheld the complaint and ruled that it breached the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) codes of social responsibility and harm and offence and ordered: ‘The ad must not appear again in its current form.’


In its ruling, which was released on Wednesday, the body said: ‘We were concerned that the focus on the negative perception she had of her own body prior to cosmetic surgery might encourage viewers, particularly young women and teenage girls, to think about their own insecurities about their bodies.’


The body said it appreciated Ashcroft was discussing her own personal experience and did not equate her own popularity — she has over 546,000 followers on Instagram and almost 55,000 subscribers on YouTube — to her surgery.


The ruling stated: “We considered that viewers would nevertheless infer from Ms Ashcroft’s emphasis on her personal transformation and the degree of confidence she said she had gained that her popularity and success as a fashion blogger had been, in part, a result of cosmetic surgery.


‘Although Ms Ashcroft’s was a personal story, we considered that the ad suggested more generally that success and popularity would be enhanced by achieving an idealised body image, which could be done by ‘correcting’ any perceived imperfections. 


‘In light of those factors, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause harm to under 18s.’


In response, Transform expressed its ‘surprise’ at the ASA’s ruling, but said it respected the decision and that the advert would not run again.


The company said Ashcroft underwent and paid for her own procedure before agreeing to do the advert and said her words in the advert were her own.


It also claimed they took measures to ensure the advert complied with advertising regulation ahead of its release.


The company also said it does not consult with or operate on under 18s and carried a large ‘18+’ disclaimer on its advert. 


Ask our counsellor Dr Deborah Sandler for advice >

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