You’ve heard or seen it before. Those adverts for cars or other expensive products offering you finance plans to spread the payment over affordable monthly installments. But the advert I was confronted with when boarding a Northern Line tube train this evening was an entriely different matter: a monthly installments financial plan, but for breast enlargement illustrated using a picture like the one here with masses of cleavage showing! The add was from the Transform Medical Group that claims to ‘Transform the way you look, love the way you feel’, and presumably transform the way we are supposed to perceive plastic surgery.
Sorry, but I find this deeply repulsive. Is the level to which we have sunk in terms of how we deal with our bodies, treating them in the same way as we buy consumer products? After all, the lad-mag Zoo Magazine ran a competition offering a lad the chance to send his girlfriend for a boob job and would then print the pictures in the magazine. The advertising standards people made a bit of a fuss about that one (see this from the BBC, and this from The Guardian) but it seems the trend is continuing. Transform even wants to make you a TV star if you are willing to go under the knife.
Then there are the health implications of the whole thing. Breast surgery involves complete anaesthetic – that’s not something we should just be taking lightly! The UK has banned ads for smoking due to the danger it can cause you. What about the danger plastic surgery can cause? And would we want to have ads for drugs Prozac or Viagra in the London Underground?
What are we supposed to do about all of this? I imagine that a less consumerist society would help, and some decent education in feminism and tolerance in schools too? I also wonder whether amounts of plastic surgery correlate with the degree of inequality in a society? That would tie in with Richard Layard’s theories of happiness – the need to keep up with the Joneses even in terms of how you look. But in terms of what should be done now? Would I even have grounds to make a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority?
While pondering those questions, I can suggest reading this summary of the Zoo Magazine episode from Dr Petra Boynton, and this column from Ariel Levy in The Guardian this week. And I’m happy that I am off to Sweden in a few days, a place where they understand what feminism means.
Dear Jon,have to say that I donâ€™t think this is a question of feminism, I mean, what is the problem of someone willing to have bigger breast, smaller ears or more hair? And why should it be restricted to people that can pay 3000 EUR (or pounds ? ) on the spot?
Something else is, of course, the discussion of which kind of values are present in our societies and why people relate the shape of the nose with happiness. I can accept this point, and your criticism on this but I am not ready to accept that someone who cares about the own appearance (and you know I do) canâ€™t be a feminist or is lacking important values and education
Would be great if Elina would comment on this…
I can’t help thinking that it’s at least in large part a feminist matter. The pressures on looking a certain way tend to be greater for women, and as the Zoo magazine episode and plenty of other examples show, pressure from guys about how women look can be enormous. After all, the vast majority of people having plastic surgery are still women, although the numbers of guys having it is rising.
Thanks for the kind comment Maria – I appreciate it! And I appreciate your comments too…
i don’t even know if it’s about feminism jon. it’s this almost “demand” that we all must be “young/beautiful/fit/have white teeth/be rich etc”. this may be translated to a boob job for women or a jaguar for men. i most certainly understand that going to surgery for something unnecessary, that could turn out to be damaging to your health in fact since people are easily exploited by “doctors”, but i somehow see it as the same more or lees symptome of a society that won’t let people search within them for the strenght they need in their lives, to be in control of their self and not simply lean against something/someone- whatever makes them more comfortable. it’s much more easier to get a nose job than really find out about your insecurities and deal with them…
(btw, good job with the blog jon, i really enjoy it!)