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A huge topical issue in this week’s news is the issue of cosmetic surgery TV advertisements. The production company ITV are at the forefront of criticism as tensions run high over ‘perfectly-timed’ advertising.

ITV and cosmetic surgery companies such as MYA are facing backlash for two reasons; first, the nature of the advertisement and second the timing of the advertisement.  ITV are currently in the limelight facing scrutiny due to screening plastic surgery advertisements during its prime-time TV show, Love Island. The show has an audience of more than 175,000 under the age of 15 years old, according to the Broadcasters Audience Research Board. The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) has written to the ITV asking for these type of adverts to be pulled.

The MHF’s letter stated the following ““strategically placing cosmetic surgery adverts during programmes that target young adults and paint a false picture of perfection is not only patronising but is adding to young people’s insecurities and contributing to distress among vulnerable people”. 

The move by ITV could be described as inappropriate and selfish to show cosmetic surgery advertisements to under-18s, who are already under pressure regarding body image.

On the other hand, it could be contended that the show is aired after the 9pm watershed which is set in place by Ofcom to protect children. The watershed ensures harmful and unsuitable material towards children is only aired after 9pm. It is therefore at the discretion of parents to decipher whether programmes aired after 9pm are suitable for their children or not. It could be argued that as the show begins after 9pm, the adverts they use are aimed at adults, who make up most of their audience.

One of Britain’s major cosmetic companies MYA, who advertise during Love Island commented “We see Love island as an adult-focused show”. MYA targets women aged 18-34.

This isn’t the first-time professionals have wanted cosmetic surgery advertisements banned. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) have wanted a full ban on cosmetic surgery advertising since 2012.

Cosmetic advertisements are an influential tool, but they are also just one contributing factor among many. The pressures that young people are exposed to through social media and magazines also contribute to insecurities around body image. Are these cosmetic advertisements the main issue – or is the biggest factor that young people face actually what they see every day across social media channels, meaning these advertisements are just the cherry on top of this particular cake.

Cosmetic advertising is a highly controversial topic in which professionals alike will disagree and agree on the issue. In terms of deciding the future of cosmetic advertising, we will have to wait and see what happens. BAAPS condemn the glamorisation of cosmetic surgery procedures due to the image-conscious society that we are all exposed to.  Maybe now the actions of ITV will lead to the end of cosmetic advertising for good. It remains to be seen.

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