New Bill Aims to Curb Overzealous Photoshopping

Kate Winslet spoke against airbrushing after this 2003 GQ Cover (GQ)

A new bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives aims at curbing overzealous photoshopping of models and celebrities in advertisements.

Called the "Truth in Advertising Act," the bill was co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida and Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of California.

Advocates for the bill want more regulation for photoshopped images that appear in advertisements and other media.

"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," reads an excerpt of the bill. "There is particular concern about the marketing of such images to children and teenagers."

Members of the Eating Disorder Coalition (EDC) met with lawmakers last month to lobby for the bill.

Seth Matlins, a marketer and an originator of the bill, said seeing his children react to advertising images without understanding they were manipulated made him want to work on the bill.

"In simplest terms we're trying to protect the consumer," said Matlins a partner with the EDC. "People are saying enough is enough. We are and have been manipulated by these ads for so long."

Advocates for the bill are asking that over 18 months the Federal Trade Commission meet with health care officials and members of the advertising and marketing community to come up with a framework that would regulate how these images could be used in media.

The bill stipulates that it affects post-production changes that "materially change" the characteristics of the models' faces and bodies, rather than a digitally altered background.

Photoshopped images has long been cited by advocates as leading consumers to see unattainable and unrealistic depictions of people, particularly female models and celebrities.

In 2011, the American Medical Association adopted a new policy to encourage advertisers to develop guidelines to discourage unrealistic images that would "promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image."

"The appearance of advertisements with extremely altered models can create unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.," said AMA member Dr. Barbara L. McAneny. "We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software."

Earlier this year, Target apologized after featuring a model who was crudely photoshopped so that her legs were unrealistically far apart.

Other stars have come out against excessive photoshopping of fashion shoots. In 2003 Kate Winslet spoke out against a GQ cover that whittled down her frame digitally.

Recently, stars have taken to social media to pull out specific images that they find egregiously airbrushed.

Teenage singer Lorde sent out this text after finding two photos of herself performing at a concert. In one her acne had apparently been airbrushed out of the picture.

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