ASA bans ‘misleading’ Twiggy advert

From a party press release:

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against an Olay advert containing a heavily airbrushed image of the model Twiggy on the grounds that it was misleading following a campaign led by the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats have called for airbrushed ads to be clearly labelled, and for airbrushing to be banned in adverts aimed at children.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson, who has led the campaign, said:

“I hope this decision marks the first step in really getting airbrushing in advertising under control.

“If advertisers think that someone as beautiful as Twiggy needs to be so heavily airbrushed, then what hope is there for the rest of us?

“Experts have already proved that airbrushing contributes to a host of problems in women and young girls such as depression and eating disorders.

“Liberal Democrats believe in the freedom of companies to advertise but we also believe in the freedom of women to be as comfortable as possible with their bodies.  They shouldn’t constantly feel the need to measure up to a very narrow range of digitally manipulated pictures.”


A recent Liberal Democrat commissioned report by the world’s leading body image experts contained scientific evidence showing how the use of airbrushing to promote body perfect ideals in advertising is causing a host of problems in young women such as eating disorders, depression, extreme exercising and encouraging cosmetic surgery. The paper reveals that:

  • Body dissatisfaction is a significant risk for physical health, mental health, and thus well-being. Any factor, such as idealised media images, that increases body dissatisfaction is therefore an important influence on well-being
  • Negative effects occur in the clear majority of adolescent girls and women in over 100 published scientific studies on the impact of thin, ‘perfected’, media images on girls and women
  • The weight of evidence across a great many studies documents that ultra-thin and highly muscular ‘body perfect’ ideals have a detrimental effect on women and men
  • Adolescents are more vulnerable than adults to body perfect images
  • A subscription to a fashion magazine increased body dissatisfaction, dieting, and bulimic symptoms amongst adolescent girls who had low levels of social support
  • Curbing the impact of idealised media images leads to improvement in body image and body-related behaviour

For more on the Liberal Democrats’ Real Women campaign, visit the website.

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  • Hold on, you mean there are actually people out there stupid enough to think that photos aren’t airbrushed? Have we turned into a nation of morons?

  • Had this campaign been dreamt up by one of New Labour’s multitude of talentless drones it would have been absurd and trivial but fairly unremarkable, but the fact that it’s being driven by a so-called Liberal Democrat is really quite shocking.

    It’s just lucky for the party and that its very triviality should prevent it from doing any damage.

  • I’m happy to admit I don’t think there’s a problem. Or rather, that even if there is a problem it’s not one that the organs of the state have any business dealing with.

    Of course Olay adverts are misleading. Most adverts for lifestyle products are misleading to some extent, whether they be for beauty products or deoderant or cars or holidays. They’re not selling a product, they’re selling the lifestyle associated with the product. And Olay is essentially snake oil so their adverts are misleading almost by definition. But it was only misleading to airbrush the photographs in the same way that it was misleading to use flattering lighting in the photo shoot or to allow the model to wear make-up or to have chosen an unrepresentatively slim, healthy and attractive model in the first place. And if all that makes some girls marginally more self-conscious than they would otherwise have been, well that’s all very sad and all, but tough shit.

    Honestly, this campaign might as well be saying:

    Scientific research shows that playing with kittens makes people happy, but froggies make people feel icky, therefore the Lib Dems are going to campaign for subsidised kittens and to have warning labels placed on froggies.

    It really is that ludicrous.

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