New Proposed Law Would Regulate Excessive Photoshop In Advertising


Not sure about you but we’re so tired of seeing story after story about bad photoshop jobs done in advertising. Major companies like Target, H&M, American Eagle and more get called out by the media, and it is ridiculous and even a little laughable that these kinds of blunders make it out into the open, the truth is that there seems to be a relaxed view on whether anyone should be taking responsiblity for it.

A quick apology and everyone forgets about it, until the next incident happens. Unbeknownst to the general public, there are female lawmakers in the US Congress who have had enough and see this as an issue that needs to be held to a higher standard. For all the cries of “big government” trying to regulate everything, this issue goes beyond that.

The media, fashion and advertising for years has had the liberty of turning pop culture on its head and turning society into a breeding ground of insecurities, low-self-esteem and other serious issues such as eating disorders, all in the name of consumerism. Yep, it’s all about the bottom dollar really, not whether you look or feel good buying a product. In fact, studies show that the worse you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to invest in a product or service.

Well now we have a group of people who want this to change. Members of the Eating Disorders Coalition met with over 50 lawmakers about the Truth in Advertising Act of 2014, introduced on March 27, which they say could prompt the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the impact digitally retouched images have on society.

Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and Lois Capps (D-California) have co-sponsored legislation to reduce the use of misleadingly altered images in advertisements.

“Just as with cigarette ads in the past, fashion ads portray a twisted, ideal image for young women,” Capps said to Time magazine. “And they’re vulnerable. As sales go up, body image and confidence drops.”

The Eating Disorders Coalition claims the bill is a great first step to preventing some of the negative health outcomes that have been directly linked to these types of images. Though the new bill would not force the Federal Trade Commission to take direct action against advertisers, the federal government would study the use of images where subjects’ physical attributes had been tweaked in order to pursue recommendations on what should be done about it.

“The link between false ads and eating disorders becomes increasingly clear every day,” said Ileana Ros-Lehtinen “We need to instead empower young men and women to have realistic expectations of their bodies.”


Take a look at the full ‘Truth in Advertising’ bill and see for yourself what they hope to achieve. This is what their findings are:

(1) Advertisers regularly alter images used in print and electronic media to materially change the physical characteristics of models’ faces and bodies, often altering the models’ size, proportions, shape, and skin color, removing signs of ageing, and making other similar changes to models’ appearance.

(2) An increasing amount of academic evidence links exposure to such altered images with emotional, mental, and physical health issues, including eating disorders, especially among children and teenagers. There is particular concern about the marketing of such images to children and teenagers through distribution in teen-oriented publications, advertising displayed in public places outside the home, and online media.

(3) Such altered images can create distorted and unrealistic expectations and understandings of appropriate and healthy weight and body image.

(4) The dissemination of unrealistic body standards has been linked to eating disorders among men and women of varying age groups, but it has a particularly destructive health effect on children and teenagers.

(5) Academic evidence has demonstrated a connection between the use of very thin models in advertising and consumer attitudes toward a brand based on such advertising, as well as a material influence of the use of such models on consumer purchase intent, conduct, and reliance.

(6) In 2011, the American Medical Association adopted a policy encouraging advertising associations to work with public and private sector organizations concerned with child and adolescent health to develop guidelines for advertisements, especially those appearing in teen-oriented publications, that would discourage the altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.

Here are the solutions they propose:

(1) a strategy to reduce the use, in advertising and other media for the promotion of commercial products, of images that have been altered to materially change the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals depicted; and

(2) recommendations for an appropriate, risk-based regulatory framework with respect to such use.

This is something that is finally getting to government level because obviously the advertising and beauty industries have proved that they don’t take it seriously. Are you in favor of this proposal? Would you vote for it if you had the chance?

To further emphasize the point of just how far photoshopping can and does go, here are a couple of viral videos, once created by Dove, showing that what you see in an advertisement is hardly ever realistic:


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