A teleshopping ad for the Velform Miniwaist, a waist compression garment, showed various women using the product. It included the presenter stating, “Have you ever wondered how celebrities get those tiny little waists they flaunt on the red carpet … introducing Velform Miniwaist the secret to getting that sexy tiny waist, so small that you’ll be everyone’s envy … What do you prefer this? Or this? This? Or this?” Images of women with and without the product were shown. “The secret behind Velform Miniwaist is it’s extreme compression bands … and if you want an even smaller waist, no problem, just tighten a little more and done … Think about this, what is the difference between a woman’s shape and a man’s shape? Women are supposed to look like this, and men like this. But very often, especially as we age, we lose that figure, it’s not just you ... fortunately now there’s a way to get that womanly figure that identifies us … creates that fabulous, perfect and extreme hourglass figure that all women want … Miniwaist is the perfect solution to all of these problems”. One of the women shown using the product stated, “I’m doing everything I can do for this waist but there has to be something else to get that teeny tiny waist, like the girls, in the pictures and in the magazines.”
One viewer, who believed the ad encouraged unhealthy body perceptions, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and harmful.
Chromotion Ltd t/a The Shop Channel UK said that the Velform Mini Waist was a temporary way for consumers to achieve a slimming effect when wearing it. They said that the ad did not specify any specific levels of tightness to use the product.
Clearcast said that the product was intended to reduce the appearance of the mid-section by compressing the area around the stomach. They did not believe the ad encouraged an unhealthy body perception or that it was irresponsible or harmful. Viewers were not encouraged to use it instead of exercise or dieting and it did not suggest they would be less desirable if they did not use the product. They said the ad presented an option for viewers who may wish to reduce the appearance of their normal curves for a thinner and trimmer looking waist.
The ASA considered that a number of the statements made in the ad implied that a very small waist was desirable and should be aspired to, particularly the references to “that sexy tiny waist, so small that you’ll be everyone’s envy”, “even smaller waist”, “extreme hourglass figure” and “that teeny tiny waist, like the girls, in the pictures and in the magazines”. The ad also implied that all women should aspire to that figure, including by stating, “Women are supposed to look like this, and men like this” and referring to “that womanly figure that identifies us” and the “perfect” figure. Although the statements were made in the context of an ad for a waist compression garment, we considered it was irresponsible to imply that a very small waist should be aspired to and that all women should aim for that figure. We considered that in the context of advertising the product it was reasonable to show it being used. However, we were concerned that in some shots the women were shown compressing their waists to appear extremely small and that, particularly in the context of the aforementioned claims, this added to the impression that women should aspire to very small waists. Overall, we concluded that the ad encouraged unhealthy body perceptions and was therefore irresponsible.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Social responsibility).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Chromotion Ltd not to imply that a very small waist was desirable and should be aspired to, and not to imply that all women should aspire to a certain figure. We also told them to take care when demonstrating use of the product.