SHOULD COMPANIES BE ALLOWED TO ‘GIVEAWAY’ COSMETIC SURGERY ON INSTAGRAM?

Yes, you DID read that right: there are companies out there offering free cosmetic surgery to Instagram users as a prizes for entering their giveaways. What a happy day it is to be a human eh?!

There are brands out there, clinics and salons that are using their Instagram accounts to not just advertise, but giveaway free procedures (both surgical and not), such as lip fillers, botox, liposuction, breast enhancements, jaw surgery, cheek fillers and the famously dangerous Brazilian Butt Lift operations to their followers.

And you can bet your butt I’m steaming out the ears about this one.

As is typical of Instagram giveaways, a marketing tool favoured by brands and bloggers alike as they try to grow their followings, all anyone needs to do to be in with a chance of winning one of these ~coveted~ prizes, is regram the image, like it and share it.

Before I get into the extensive list of problems that marketing methods like these are causing, let me first provide you with some examples:

@flawlesscosmetic: “So we are at 99k followers and want to give back our followers the biggest giveaway we’ve ever done. So we have decided that we are going to give away £1000 in gift vouches. £10o every 100 followers until we reach 100k. All you have to do to enter is repost this photo with the comment ‘£1000 to 100k followers @flawlesscosmetic ‘ and tag as many friends as you can to get us there faster. Each winner must follow us and have liked and shared this post. Must be 18+ for treatment

@lalaland_nw: “Amazing give away jawline/cheeks and lips for you and a friend! Screenshot this picture and upload it to your feed. Tag us and your bestie. Winner announced Friday 19th 9pm.”

@augplastic: “win free botox for one year. We’re giving away free botox for one year to one lucky winner. Visit our office to enter.”

@LAskinaesthetics: “win a free syringe of filler in three simple steps. Follow our page. Like this post. Tag at least one friend.”

@southeastmedspa: “The new you awaits!… and red is the inspiration! Post a picture of yourself to your page wearing red lips and tag us for your chance to win free lip filler!”

@bodytonic: “wanna get free filler? post a selfie!”

But it doesn’t end there… did you know that botox parties are a thing? Because they are and @klgaesthetics is offering up a banger: “who fancies a girly night in with some fillers? If you and 5 friends book a filler night, the host will get 2ml revolax for free!!!”

This last one amused me, I couldn’t help it, “a girly night in with some fillers” is about as depressing an example of millennial life as is possible, but here we are.

As it turns out we’re more than happy to throw our pals into what is, from whatever way you look at it, a bubbling pit of peer pressure and self-doubt, if it means we get a free shot of whatever revolax is.

Brands are not just free to advertise plastic surgery to literally anyone that stumbles onto one of these accounts, but to rope in un-expecting customers with the promise of surgery they’ve probably given very little, or no, consideration to.

The common line seems to be ‘tag your bestie’, which, as a marketing method is inspired and probably harmless when done by accounts such as New Look, but when done by companies selling surgery? It’s more than a little bit dangerous.

It is one thing to throw your hat into the ring for your own chance at a year’s worth of lip filler, but to drag an unsuspecting pal into the path of temptation?

Apart from the instant: should I be taking a hint? feeling that I’d no doubt experience if one of my so-called-friends tagged me in a post like this, by being sent this notification in the first place, I’d be exposed to something that I wasn’t actively looking for and what’s to say that once I saw what was on offer I wouldn’t at least give it a go?

Of course this is entirely the point, and it’s perfect for the brand.

But it’s a nightmare for ‘the bestie’.

I ought to say now, I am not against plastic surgery. Whilst I haven’t had any, I don’t think I would rule it out. I think, when given due consideration, it can be a positive thing and therefore no one should be judged for having it.

But let me reiterate the importance of the due consideration. Because it is no secret that there are very real dangers to social media, and even bigger ones connected to cosmetic surgery. Combine the two things and the consequences could be catastrophic.

In truth, one of the things that is most worrying to me is how casual it is that free plastic surgery is being handed out on Instagram. As if winning a procedure that completely alters the shape of your natural face is in any way comparable to winning a year’s supply of teabags.

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, I always considered plastic surgery to be a last resort – type of thing.

A final option following years of insecurity surrounding one thing in particular. A nose job after a lifetime of trying to hide behind your hands in photos. Breast reduction surgery after years of back pain. A little wrinkle-eradicating procedure after a complete identity crisis the week after your 30th birthday.

Despite my relative youth, I’m still having a hard time trying to wrap my head around the fact that that is no longer the case; procedures, both surgical and not, are far easier to come by now than they once were, and our reasons are not nearly as ‘severe’.

Thanks to the fact that Superdrug now offer botox, for example, you can pop into a high-street store on your lunch break for a surprise (look at least) as long as you’re over eighteen. Thanks to reality stars like Charlotte Crosby and Kylie Jenner, lip fillers are as common place as lipliner. It has never been easier or more normal. It’s never been so okay before.

Perhaps I’m oversimplifying this, but I’m trying to show how, thanks to the ease at which these procedures can be now be done, far less consideration is being put into these things than ever before.

As far as I knew, there was always a sort of ‘cloud of secrecy’ that surrounded plastic surgery; not shame as such, but a lot of hush hush after a small squitz of botox or a boob lift following four kids and a successful year at weight watchers.

It was done by and for the individual but not readily advertised for all to know. It could have been mistaken for a good bra or week on holiday.

And it’s just not like that anymore.

Thanks to our ongoing quest for perfection, plastic surgery has basically become common place. Remembering every Love Island contestant there has ever been and I can’t think of one that hadn’t had a little sommin’ sommin’ done.

And who can blame them when their reality TV role models, the OGs of Towie and Geordie Shore are unrecognisable from the fresh-faced natural girls they were when they first appeared on our screens ten years ago?

Surgery is everywhere and thanks to Instagram, we’ve never felt we needed it more.

I am now beginning to appreciate that my views of cosmetic surgery are somewhat old fashioned, but from where I am sitting, I see that Instagram seems to be responsible for making this out to be ‘not the big deal’ it once was and these salons are cashing in on this.

Rather than carefully considering the case of a just turned 18 year old before allowing them to alter the shape of their face or body, companies are actively looking for people of this age to coerce.

They, by offering the first procedure free, are banking on the addictive nature of these things to secure a client for life.

Like I say, I am not opposed to surgery. I might have a little something put in a lips one day, or even a boob lift after I’ve been lucky enough to have kids.. maybe, I’m not ruling that out. But if I did decide to do that I would hope that the consulting physician would ask, no, demand, that I take time to consider this properly.

My issue is NOT with the surgery, or with anyone for having it, it is with the companies for marketing themselves like this and for the regularity bodies for allowing them to get away with this.

As a blogger if I were to so much as share an affiliate link without declaring it, ASA would be down my throat in a flash, and yet these companies are permitted to advertise in the shadiest, most manipulative of ways.

Surgery has never been more accessible, let Superdrug’s £99 botox procedures be an example of that, and whilst that may be a good thing in selective instances, for those people who really do feel they have no option but to go under the knife, or the needle at least, for the most part we can’t deny that normalising surgery in this way is nothing short of dangerous.

To be able to get a squirt of botox on your lunch break whilst popping into buy some cotton pads is just insane.

Of course girls feel like they have to have it. The ease of access leaves them not just with temptation, but with no excuse not to.

I literally only started smoking because my friends did it. If cigarettes were only available from a nice person in a white coat who gave me a proper pych-anaylisis before permitting me to have one, I wouldn’t have bothered. As it happens there was a slightly dodgy guy who worked in the corner shop who bought over duty free fags from Russia whenever he returned to England and sold them under the counter for £5 a pack and who was I to say no to something right there in front of me?

I know I’m oversimplifying and my tongue is firmly in my cheek but the comparison is there to be made.

Giving a twenty year old insecure woman the prize of lip fillers just because her friend tagged her in a post would be like giving  a recently sober alcoholic forty cases of champagne without explaining why.

Temptation will probably hit them harder than they’d care to admit.

I did not want to believe the neigh-sayers of twenty years ago when they said that the plastic surgery industry was totally morally bankrupt, because, as I’ve said above, in lots of instances it can be a really positive thing for people who want help loving themselves, but with this new evidence, it’s hard to fight that case.

To give someone with body dysmorphia or anxiety the extraodinary ease of access is massively dangerous manipulation. To a lesser extent, allowing these pages to even exist is to feed us the rhetoric, again, that we need to change. Beyond the risk that these ‘ads’ are to mentally unwell people, they are equally disastrous for a generation of girls on the brink, breaking themselves to fit in with society’s idea of ‘perfect’.

You’re great, but you could be better – this seems to be the message that we are being fed by these companies, irregardless of who we are or what we look like.

To offer up cosmetic surgery as a ‘prize’ is to say that we could all benefit from a bit of reasonably priced improvement and that’s just not the case.

We’re perfect as we are, and it would be nice if these social media platforms could take a little more responsibility for the dangerous antics going on behind what are dressed up as kind and glamorous accounts.

What’dya think? Am I being dramatic? Or do Instagram owe us one here???

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