Social media ads selling cosmetic surgery to teenage girls could be banned
ASA launching consultation on proposed prohibition of adverts for cosmetic procedures aimed at under 18s
Advertisements on social media selling cosmetic surgery to teenage girls could be banned under plans mooted by the advertising watchdog.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it was considering prohibition of any advertising for cosmetic interventions, such as lip fillers and breast enhancements, aimed at under-18s across all media including social media.
The move was welcomed by campaigners, who said they had seen a rise in the number of children getting enhancements to look like the reality TV stars they follow on social media.
Even though it is illegal to perform cosmetic procedures on under-18s, there are currently no restrictions on advertising such services to children.
In contrast, companies are not allowed to target children with adverts for food and drinks considered to be high in fats, sugar or salt.
Ashton Collins, the founder of Save Face, the professional standards body for cosmetic practitioners, welcomed the move, saying that, since its founding in 2014, it had heard from increasing numbers of parents complaining about their teenage children attempting to have procedures after being bombarded with ads and posts on social media.
She said: “The advertising around these treatments is something that definitely needs addressing. Everybody we have had statements from who has problems in this way have all found their practitioners on social media.
“By the nature of the group we are talking about – 14 to 18-year-olds – they pretty much live their life on social media and the people they follow all have cosmetic interventions, whether it be the Kardashians or reality TV stars from Love Island.
“They all have a look a certain way, which tends to be overly-augmented cheeks and lips.”
Currently, medical doctors are the only group of practitioners in the cosmetic surgery industry subject to age restrictions on advertising their services.
The ASA said it was launching a consultation on the proposed ban and wanted to hear from cosmetic practitioners as well as parents and industry bodies.
The organisation’s director of committees, Shahriar Coupal, said: “This is an important consultation which seeks views on a proposal to introduce tighter restrictions around the advertising of cosmetic interventions, strengthening protections for young people and better protecting them from potential harm.”