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Should Plastic Surgery Advertising Be Banned?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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In a world where consumers claim that they know more than advertisers think, and where people want less government in their lives, there seems to be plenty of evidence that points to the contrary. The most recent example is a Huffington Post article that takes up an issue happening in the UK: women's advocacy groups and some plastic surgeons are demanding for the government to make plastic surgery advertising to the masses illegal.

Let's look at the facts. Over the past year, there have been several claims brought up against women's magazines for false advertising, especially in the UK. The L'Oreal ad featuring Julia Roberts that was challenged for airbrushing comes to mind. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been extremely busy fielding complaints, taking down billboards, and slapping wrists of many organizations that have offended the ever-more sensitive consumer. 

The question is, should the government listen to the petition and make plastic surgery advertising illegal? The petition explained that it would be similar to the UK's ban on advertising prescription drugs directly (a law that the U.S. does not have nor will enact anytime soon). UK Feminista, the masterminds of this plight, also believe that it is not just the ads that are bad, but the placement. In a 2011 survey, the group found that between January and June, four of the biggest women's magazines had 70 combined ads about plastic surgery.

So, should plastic surgery be illegal? Short answer: no. We believe that any business has the right to push its message out as long as the public continues to consume its services. If women no longer want to see ads of plastic surgery, there are two things that they can do about it. First, they should stop using plastic surgery, and then those businesses will no longer have the money to advertise. Or, the consumers could stop buying the magazines that allow the advertising and force the magazine providers to decide if they want to continue allowing plastic surgeons to advertise. 

There are private sector ways to "fix" a problem, but it takes a little more effort from consumers to do it. One can't keep running to government to change something that you don't like.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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