During September, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) announced their proposals for a new, strict, advertising code.
While the BAAPS are continuing their campaign for an outright ban on cosmetic surgery advertising in all forms, this particular proposal aims to protect the young (i.e. those under 18 years of age) from adverts promoting cosmetic surgery.
As I have written in this Journal previously (Vol 2, Issue 2), these are positive steps to take us into the post-PIP area.
As the BAAPS reports, according to a report published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, approximately 50% of the public in the UK experience feelings of negative body image. And more worrying, girls as young as 5 years old are worried about their size and appearance.
This is an awful thing to consider. As a 20-something-year-old woman, I naturally struggle with my own feelings with regard to the pressures of beauty and having the perfect figure. And indeed, I’m frequently astounded by the number of posters for breast augmentation throughout the London Underground. But, for a 5-year-old to feel or think similar thoughts is a terrifying thought for the future self-worth and self-esteem of the population as a whole.
And yes, I agree whole-heartedly with the BAAPS that banning advertising to those under 18 years of age, the banning of adverts with celebrity endorsements (including those with air-brushing), and the banning of cosmetic surgery as prizes are essential steps to rectify this problem.
However, this will not result in the young being completely immune to such body issues. The ‘F’ word, for example, is now something that enters into every aspect of our lives from a young age. Children under 10 years of age are being encourage by health professionals, teachers and parents to diet in order to tackle the problem of obesity.
And frankly, as someone who bought her first issue of Cosmopolitan at the ripe age of 11, banning cosmetic surgery advertisements/endorsements and other subjects to under 18s won’t necessarily work. Young girls want to grow up as soon as possible, so they buy ‘grown-up’ magazines and are exposed to grown-up issues at an earlier age than perhaps we would like.
I applaud the BAAPS for making a start to tackle some of the concerns that many of us will have with regard to these matters, but if we truly want to become a more transparent and responsible industry, then we should all focus our attention on these issues further.