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TV Ad For Breast Surgery Featuring Lifestyle Blogger Sarah Ashcroft Banned

The UK's advertising watchdog said the ad for cosmetic surgery was irresponsible because it directly appealed to young women and teenage girls.

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An advert for breast surgery featuring lifestyle blogger Sarah Ashcroft has been banned after it was deemed irresponsible.

The advert, which ran on ITV in April, featured the 21-year-old, who runs the That Pommie Girl blog, talking about her experience of breast enhancement surgery and how people were "so impressed" with the results.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the company, Transform, failed to advertise responsibly because the ad would be likely to appeal to teenagers.

A viewer contacted the advertising watchdog because they felt the ad for the Transform Clinic in London exploited young women's insecurities about their bodies by implying that breast enhancement surgery would make them more confident and popular.

In the video, Ashcroft, who had surgery at the clinic, said she felt like a "new person" after the procedure.

She said: "I never really looked at any part of my body past my neck because it wasn't something I liked. So I spent endless hours looking into getting a cosmetic procedure. From the moment I walked into the Transform Clinic, I knew these were the people I wanted to go with.

"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."

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The ASA said the ad’s focus on Ashcroft, who has 28,800 Twitter followers, meant it would appeal to young women and ruled it should not be shown again.

The watchdog was "concerned that the focus on the negative perception she had of her body prior to cosmetic surgery might encourage viewers, particularly young women and teenage girls, to think about their own insecurities about their bodies".

Though Ashcroft did not explicitly link cosmetic surgery with her popularity or success in the advert, the ASA said because of the emphasis on confidence she gained following the surgery, young viewers would infer the connection.

The "stories" focus on the bloggers' experience of procedures including laser hair removal, rhinoplasty, and lip enhancement.

The ASA said it had not banned the series on the site because it is unlikely children would access the website and navigate to this exact page, whereas it is likely they may see the ad on TV.

Transform defended the ad and said Ashcroft was a "positive role model" for cosmetic surgery and that her testimony was "neutral" and unscripted.

The company added that she chose cosmetic surgery with Transform for clinical reasons and paid for her procedure prior to being approached to feature in the advert.

A spokeswoman said she was "surprised" the complaint had been upheld because Ashcroft was typical of "independent, responsible" women who opted for plastic surgery, but said Transform would respect the ASA's ruling that the ad should not appear again.

She added there was "no inference in the advert that her [Ashcroft's] popularity is linked to her breast size" and claimed that Ashcroft "strongly encourages anyone thinking about a procedure to undertake their research with a sense of personal responsibility".

"Rightly or wrongly, cosmetic surgery polarises opinion and we acknowledge there will always be parts of society who will object to it," she said. "However, Transform strives to ensure a sense of responsibility is maintained at all times."

The spokeswoman also claimed the company had led what she described as a "sea change in the ethical marketing of the sector".

BuzzFeed News contacted Sarah Ashcroft but she had not responded at the time of writing.

Sara Spary is a consumer business correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Sara Spary at sara.spary@buzzfeed.com.

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