'Designer vagina' advert banned for being irresponsible
An ad for so-called "designer vagina" surgery has been banned for being irresponsible over concerns it could encourage women to be dissatisfied with their bodies.
The ad for labia reshaping at the London Bridge Plastic Surgery clinic, carried in the London Metro newspaper, offered women the opportunity to "achieve a more natural appearance" and "relieve the discomfort caused by enlarged labia".
Five readers complained that the ad was socially irresponsible for encouraging women to be dissatisfied with their bodies and to undergo unnecessary cosmetic surgery.
London Bridge Plastic Surgery said 100% of women undergoing labiaplasty were looking for a more "natural" appearance, 91% reported discomfort from clothing, 69% reported discomfort when doing sports and a significant number reported discomfort during intercourse.
The clinic said it therefore did not believe it was socially irresponsible to advertise the availability of such surgery, and the women undergoing the procedure did not consider it to be unnecessary.
Metro said it considered the ad to be suitable for its readership of young professionals with disposable income and who would not take offence at that type of promotion.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the description of labiaplasty as achieving "a more natural appearance" implied that the pre-surgery labia might be somehow "unnatural" in appearance.
It said: "We considered that it was irresponsible to imply that any part of a person's body was not natural in appearance, including because it could encourage them to be dissatisfied with their body, regardless of whether or not it encouraged them to undertake cosmetic surgery."
It said some women might suffer from labial discomfort and seek a labiaplasty, but it was not the case that having larger labia was abnormal or would inevitably cause discomfort, adding: "We considered that the claim risked encouraging women to view their labia as abnormal, particularly in combination with the reference to 'a more natural appearance'.
"We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible."
The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form, adding: "We told (the clinic) to take care when advertising labiaplasty to ensure that they did not encourage women to be dissatisfied with their bodies."
The London Bridge Plastic Surgery clinic said: "We never impose on our patients our views of what natural is and never tell a patient what is normal.
"It is our patients who ask for a more natural or normal appearance and it is our role to tell them what or what is not possible."