December 8, 2022

UK cosmetic surgery ads criticised as ‘unscrupulous”

Channel advised to review its standards

ITV, a commercial TV channel in the UK, will review its policy of screening advertisements for breast enlargement and diet pills during its wildly successful show “Love Island”.

It has been roundly criticised by the head of the National Health Service and feminists.

Love Island is a reality TV show in which attractive singles wander around, mostly in swimwear. Critics claim that advertisers are exploiting the insecurities of young women.

The companies whose ads were criticised include MYA Cosmetic Surgery, which offers loans for tummy tucks, breast enlargements and nose jobs, and Skinny Sprinkles, a diet supplement which describes itself as a “gastric band in a glass”.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens advised ITV to review its standards. “You’ve got explicit ads aiming at young women around breast cosmetic surgery. That is all playing into a set of pressures around body image that are showing up as a burden on other services.”

Whether the mea culpas of television executives will be followed by change is uncertain. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons recently issued a statement:

We are seeing the damaging effects of this cultural phenomenon on an increasingly vulnerable population, whereby the decision to seek out treatment is trivialised whilst individuals face intense psychological pressure to conform. By advertising cosmetic surgery alongside this type of programming – and in some instances, even using the stars of the show — unscrupulous clinics are targeting young people in a way that commodifies surgery as a quick fix and endangers patients. It is worth noting that many of these clinics have a history of targeting young people using influencers to promote surgery, for which they have received public criticism- – but which has not halted this aggressive and unethical marketing tactic.

Creative commons
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