'Irresponsible' Waist Training Advert Banned For 'Implying Women Should Have A Tiny Waist'

An advertisement for a waist trainer which promises to help women get a "sexy tiny waist" has been banned by the UK's advertising watchdog.

The advert featured different women sporting the Velform Miniwaist, while a presenter said: “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."

The "irresponsible" ad, which was aired on The Shop Channel UK, has since been removed after a viewer complained that it was "harmful" and "encouraged unhealthy body perceptions".

Responding to the complaint, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the advertisement and told the company behind the product, Chromotion Ltd, that they should not imply that a very small waist is desirable in future promotional material.

Waist trainers have gained popularity over the years, with celebrities such as Kim Kardashian promoting them on social media.

In the now-banned television advert for the Velform Miniwaist, women were paraded before the camera wearing the waist compression garment.

Meanwhile a narrator said: "What do you prefer? This? Or this? This? Or this?"

The narrator continued: "The secret behind Velform Miniwaist is its 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."

"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," said the narrator.

"Miniwaist is the perfect solution to all of these problems."

Meanwhile one of the women featured in the advert said: "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 contacted the ASA about the advertisement because they believed the ad "encouraged unhealthy body perceptions". The viewer also challenged whether the advert was "irresponsible and harmful".

Positive body image campaigner Leyah Shanks said that the language used in the advert was "shocking".

"It's a classic case of capitalisation on insecurities, which have themselves been generated by brands like this," she said.

"No one should be telling anyone else what someone is 'supposed' to look like, especially not a company trying to sell a product.

"The way in which they have gone about marketing this is completely innappropriate and irresponsible and I, for one, am glad that the ad will not be appearing again in its current form.

"If I had come across this ad in my teenage years I don't even want to think about the way it would have made me feel."

Chromotion Ltd defended the product and said it was "a temporary way for consumers to achieve a slimming effect when wearing it". They said their advert "did not specify any specific levels of tightness to use the product".

Meanwhile Clearcast, which clears ads for UK commercial channels, said that they "did not believe the ad encouraged an unhealthy body perception or that it was irresponsible or harmful".

Additionally, they said that 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.

They said it also implied that women should aspire to that particular body shape 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.

ASA added: "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."

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Serena Willliams

Our Body Image Heroes

In the past, questions have been raised over just how safe waist trainers are.

Speaking previously to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, personal trainer Joshua Silverman said that they "should be avoided at all costs".

He explained: "Waist trainers work by constricting the abdominal walls, which is where important muscle and adipose tissue sits to protect your internal organs. When you constrict this area, it stops blood flow getting to this tissue, and therefore to those organs.

"Not only this, but when constricting, your body cannot release fat from that area. This means it actually could even start gathering fat there, due to the fact that it can't free up any fatty acids.

"So rather than reducing your waist size, you could actually do the opposite in the longer term."

Dr Selezneva, an aesthetic medical doctor practising at the Dr Rita Rakus clinic in London, added that waist training can also damage the ribs and bones.

"In order to achieve a tiny waist, the ribcage must be minimised which is achieved by reshaping the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone," she said.

"The upper seven pair of ribs are unaffected by waist training as their cartilage attaches directly to the sternum and cannot be reshaped.

"However, the eighth, ninth and tenth pair of ribs, known as the ‘false ribs’ are not directly connected to the sternum and therefore can be reshaped through the waist training. Over many years, these ribs are slowly pushed closer together."