Breast enlargement advert is banned because it 'could cause harm to teenagers'

Sarah Ashcroft in Transform video

An advert for breast enlargement surgery has been banned because it's been ruled that it was likely to cause harm to teenagers.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) called it "irresponsible".

The TV promotion featured 21-year-old fashion blogger Sarah Ashcroft talking about her dislike of her body before having a boob job.

In it she says: "I never really looked at any part of my body past my neck because it wasn't something I liked."

Sarah Ashcroft in Transform video
Image caption Sarah Ashcroft had a boob job in May 2015

After the surgery she says: "I feel like a new person, from having nothing to then looking at yourself with boobs, it was the weirdest thing. Everyone was like 'Wow, they look so natural, I'm so impressed.'

"And to come away from it feeling 10 times more confident than you were, I think, is just an amazing feeling."

One viewer complained that the advert exploited young women's insecurities about their bodies by implying that breast-enhancement surgery would make them more confident and popular.

Sarah Ashcroft in Transform video
Image caption Sarah Ashcroft said she felt insecure about how she looked before having surgery

TFHC Ltd, which trades as Transform, described Sarah Ashcroft as "representative of many independently-minded, responsible, thoughtful, sophisticated and successful young females who chose to undergo cosmetic surgery".

It also said she was a positive role model.

The company claimed that, rather than exploiting insecurities, the advert reflected the emotional and physical outcome experienced by Sarah Ashcroft while not making any claims that breast enlargement surgery resulted in increased popularity.

The ad included on-screen text stating that surgery wasn't without risk, was for over-18s only and had been scheduled after 9pm.

The ASA said it was concerned that the advert's focus might encourage younger viewers to think about their own body insecurities.

The ASA said it believed viewers could make the assumption that her popularity and success as a fashion blogger had been, in part, a result of cosmetic surgery.

It said: "Although Ms Ashcroft's was a personal story, we considered that the ad suggested more generally that success and popularity would be enhanced by achieving an idealised body image, which could be done by 'correcting' any perceived imperfections.

"In light of those factors, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause harm to those under 18."

The ASA ruled that the advert must not appear again in its current form.

"We told TFHC to take care to ensure their service was advertised in a socially responsible way that was not likely to cause harm to those under 18 years of age."

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