The Advertising Standards Agency has banned adverts screened between segments of ITV’s Love Island last summer, on the grounds that the promotion of breast augmentation, during peak time, was ‘irresponsible and harmful’. Produced for cosmetic surgery MYA, campaigners argued that they ‘were exploitative of young women’s insecurities’. With Love Island’s target audience mostly made up of young people and an opening episode pulling in 2.9 million viewers, criticism for the broadcasting of the MYA ads across the summer included the above from the Mental Health Foundation, a charity dedicated to ‘finding and addressing the sources of mental health problems.’

The ASA reassessed the adverts, concluding that,  ‘… the ad went beyond presenting the lifestyle of women who had breast enlargement in a positive light and implied that the women were only able to enjoy the aspirational lifestyle shown, and to be happy with their bodies, because they had undergone that surgery. We also considered that the focus on the aspirational lifestyle and the tone of the ad, in combination with the statement ‘join them and thousands more’ – which suggested that it was common to undergo breast enlargement and acted as an explicit call to action – had the effect of trivialising the decision to undergo that surgery.”

In response, MYA claimed that, ‘the ad did not explore negative attitudes to body image prior to breast enlargement… featured real patients over 21 and did not imply that the women were only enjoying themselves because of the surgery’. However, the company has now agreed to work alongside mental health charities for their next campaign.

Director of the Mental Health Foundation, Isabelle Goldie, described the ASA’s decision as a ‘watershed moment’.

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