Campaign to ban cosmetic surgery advertising

// 15 March 2012

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close up of a Harley Medical Group advert for cosmetic surgery, which has been stickered with a label reading

“There’s probably nothing wrong with your appearance, but give me your money and let me perform major surgery on you.”

UK Feminista have launched a campaign to ban cosmetic surgery advertising. The campaign is supported by Object, Rosa, the Women’s Resource Centre and both the president and president-elect of the British Association of Cosmetic Plastic Surgeons, among others. The text of the public petition is as follows:

Right now there are few restrictions on where and how cosmetic surgery providers can advertise their procedures.

Yet cosmetic surgery adverts ruthlessly prey on women’s body anxieties to generate profit. They recklessly trivialise surgical procedures that carry real health risks and fuel body insecurities through messages and images of beauty ‘ideals’.

The aggressive marketing tactics of some cosmetic clinics have got so bad that the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons now support the prohibition of cosmetic surgery advertising.

People should not be involuntarily exposed to these harmful advertising tactics, whether in public spaces, in magazines or on TV.

Just as rules prevent prescription medicines being advertised in the interest of public health, we urge the Government to end the advertising of cosmetic surgery.

This is a complete no-brainer for me and I sincerely hope the campaign is a success. We should remember that women have a wide variety of reasons for undergoing the kind of procedures offered by these private cosmetic surgery practices (for example, a trans woman wishing to have breast implants is likely coming from a very different place to an insecure cis woman who thinks her breasts are unacceptably small), but this cynical, misogynistic propaganda has to end.

(While looking for an image for this post I came across the incredibly awesome WANG club tumblr, for Women Against Non-essential Grooming. Big hairy love it.)

Comments From You

Alicia // Posted 15 March 2012 at 11:16 am

Thanks for the WANG mention! Join us!

Rose // Posted 15 March 2012 at 2:29 pm

Yeah, I have to hit refresh on hotmail everytime that MYA ad comes on, (you know, insulting you for lacking meat market appeal, while displaying photoshopped images of women with no sensuality as ideals that you should aspire to become)

I find those ads depressing, not in the sick sad world way, but actually sinking into depression. They make me want to give up on the world. They pornify women, and seem to suggest that being an internet prostitute ‘model’ is the way forward. I hate them, and have repeatedly sent in complains about them, without getting a single response.

Oh, but WANG – that’s art to put da Vinci to shame! lol.

Laurel // Posted 15 March 2012 at 8:17 pm

i wouldnt care so much if it wasnt EVERYwhere, not just tv and magazine adverts but ESPECIALLY online, and sadly TV shows giving it so much exposure, even if they might be trying to make a freak show out of the people who use it , or showing it go wrong or how hard it is, the more you see of it, the more of a “normal” thing it is to consider to sort out a “problem” we have with our bodies, in our heads. That is a problem.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 15 March 2012 at 9:27 pm

I love that tumblr! And the name is genius :)

Jodesleigh // Posted 1 April 2012 at 5:33 pm

I used to work in a well known high end department store in a big shopping centre, and couldn’t bear the superficial nature of target marketing and gendered advertising. In particular, I couldn’t stand how women were expected to look and behave as members of staff, to sell the products. Feeling heavily resistant and looked down on for not conforming to these models I was constantly aware of the manipulative ways that my working environment preyed on women’s insecurities. The moment of real shock however was walking to work one morning, unsuspectingly to the staff entrance only to see slapped up next to it, a huge advert for surgery with the quote “the best decision I ever made”. The very idea that life changing, almost irreversible, and probably excruciating surgery, could be for a woman, the best decision she could have made, to be ‘beautiful’ in a way that is apparently so easy, so attainable, is something I find absolutely galling. It insults women everywhere to suggest that our values are so entirely vain that achieving superficial beauty could be ‘the best decision’ we would ever make. The best decision I ever made was leaving that place and taking a leap to work in a somewhere whose values are decidedly less sexist and for whom my intelligence and creativity is of interest to my employer, not what kind of female ideal I might sell.

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