A BAN ON COSMETIC SURGERY ADS?
“Boob jobs. Same day surgery. Get more, pay less!”
UK Feminista, a non-profit group dedicated to gaining equality for women, and a group of prominent plastic surgeons have issued a petition calling on the government to make cosmetic surgery ads illegal.
In a letter published in the Guardian, the groups make three main arguments for banning cosmetic surgery advertising: The ads present a public health risk because they “recklessly trivialise invasive surgical procedures”, they undermine body confidence and their prevalence makes them impossible to avoid.
They also argue that it’s not just the content of the ads that’s problematic, it’s their placement. “According to The Guardian, a 2011 survey by UK Feminista of four women’s magazines – publications filled with articles supposedly encouraging positive body image and self confidence – found that between January and June, Cosmopolitan featured 32 ads for plastic surgery, Marie Claire featured 16, Elle 12, and Vogue 10.”
The Hoopla asked stand-up comedian, writer and broadcaster Corinne Grant and author, social commentator and award-winning advertising writer Jane Caro to argue the case for and against. Here’s what they had to say:
Banning cosmetic surgery advertising won’t all of a sudden improve the self esteem of those who are susceptible to what it promises. It won’t take away the desire many of us have to change our appearance in an effort to change our lives. What we should be focussing on is the importance our society places on external appearance.
Instead of banning the ads, we should ridicule the magazines that pedal superficiality. You know the type: “He’ll love you more if you wear mascara,” “You will die lonely if you don’t have this season’s must have pony-skin wedges,” “Are you too smart to be loved? If you can read this, chances are the answer is yes!”
Okay, I’m exaggerating (just) but that’s the underlying message in many fashion and lifestyle magazines. We buy this crap because we feel insecure and publishers churn it out because they know we crave it.
I’d prefer to see ads like this: “Do you need bigger boobs? Of course you do! Look how well it worked out for Anna Nicole Smith!”
And what exactly is cosmetic surgery “advertising” anyway? It isn’t just advertisements in print, on television or on Facebook. It’s far more sophisticated than that. Reality shows that extoll the virtues of a better life after an eye-lift or tummy-tuck can be virtual advertisements, as can be ‘true life’ stories in magazines. Do we ban all the TV shows, interviews and articles as well? And if we do, who decides when we are crossing the line from banning into censorship?
Clearly, false or misleading advertising should be regulated and there are codes in place to do that. Promising pain-free overnight boob-jobs is just as irresponsible as flogging a nasal spray that will add two inches to your penis length or an exercise machine that will give you a six pack while you lie on it eating jelly crystals straight from the packet.
But banning something doesn’t make it go away, it just pushes it underground.
Forbidding plastic surgery propaganda won’t stop opportunistic surgeons finding another way to weasel their way into our self esteem. If we want to eradicate that, we’ll first have to abolish advertising agencies.
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