The law means that any models appearing in commercial photography whose bodies have been made thinner or thicker using image software must be labelled with “Photographie retouchée” (edited photograph).
France isn’t the first country to legislate on image editing in advertising (Israel did so in 2012), but it’s good to see more awareness on the issue. Fines of €37,500, or 30% of the cost of creating the ad, can be given to those caught out.
Studies have shown that, out of all Western Europeans, French women have the lowest average BMI, at 23.2, and 11 percent of French women are considered “extremely thin.” The new law is aimed at helping to tackle body image problems among people chasing body shapes they can’t hope to live up to because they were faked using computers.
“Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies leads to a sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behaviour.”
— Former Health Minister, Marisol Touraine
As a direct result of the move, American stock photography agency Getty Images will no longer accept photos that show retouched models, and the change is now written into the contract of any photographer contributing work to the database. With The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reporting that 47 percent of girls between the ages of 10 and 18 feel pressured to lose weight by what they see in magazines, and 69 percent of the same age group having their perception of the “perfect body” defined by images of fashion models, there’s clearly a lot more that can be done. And according to the National Eating Disorders Association, 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life.
While a step in the right direction, there’s only so much that a label on a photo can do, because the same unrealistic body image is still being held up as the ideal. What would make more of a difference is if there’s a change of attitude among fashion designers. If they stop shaping clothes for size zero, that can only be a good thing.
Retailers can do better, too. A study showed female mannequins (but not male) represent extremely underweight women.
Professor of Diversity in Fashion at Kingston University London, Caryn Franklin, MBE, said, “It’s about alerting the next generation of creatives to the choices they might make around ethical presentations of women’s bodies and the impacts that can have. That said, the more people in positions of power who express opinions on behalf of all our daughters the better.”
Another French law that took effect in May 2017 requires all European models working in France to present a medical certificate, and the doctor who signs off on the certificate must pay extra attention to body mass index (BMI). Belgium, Spain, and Italy are among several countries that now legislate the BMI of fashion models.
Is she Photoshopped? In France, they now have to tell you, on the BBC.
Via Lee Newham.