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This corset ad was banned in the UK for being terrible for women’s body image

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Wednesday, February 17th, 2016


Corsets, the fashion garments have been making it impossible to breathe  making your waist look smaller for centuries, have experienced a renaissance of sorts in the past few years, with spokespeople like the Kardashians advocating the latest incarnation, the “waist-training” corset that purports to, um, teach your waist to be smaller? Even though experts have debunked the myth that one can “train” one’s body type with shapewear, ladies of the 21st century are still buying garments that women wore before they earned the right to vote in droves. Oh, and fun fact, these garments that have been known to displace and damage internal organs, and they’re still big sellers. It feels like there’s an Onion article somewhere in here.

Fortunately, not everyone is onboard with this worrisome trend. The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority just ruled that a commercial for the Velform Miniwaist, a waist compression garment,  can  no longer be aired, because it encourages an unhealthy body image.

The ASA pointed to lines like “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” as promoting this difficult-to-achieve shape as the ideal.

The ASA was also not cool with this ad implying that all women should aspire to have the tiniest of waists, with lines like “Women are supposed to look like this,” “that womanly figure that identifies us,” and calling a corseted figure “perfect.” Overall, the ASA concluded that the ad encouraged “unhealthy body perceptions” and was therefore “irresponsible.”

This isn’t the first time corset ads have taken heat in recent history. In August, there was backlash against  the “Miss Belt,” a compression garment that claimed to make wearers two sizes smaller. Women took to social media to question both the unhealthy body image the compression belt promoted as well as the safety of a product that constricted the mid-section in such an extreme way.

It’s heartening to see both civilians and government agencies push back against this Victorian practice that encourages unhealthy ideals, and, in practice, can cause so much damage to the body. As always, we’re always hoping that the next trend around the corner is the one that embraces all body types, something that would require you to purchase exactly zero unsafe contraptions.

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