Couple Pushes For Law To Limit Photoshopping Models; Because It Hurts Young Girls' Self-Esteem

from the self-esteem-act? dept

A couple months ago, we wrote about how the UK Advertising Standards Authority had banned some cosmetics ads, because the women appearing in them — including Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington — were way too Photoshopped, and thus the ads were misleading. Back on this side of the pond, it appears that there’s an effort underway (led by a “concerned” married couple) to stop Photoshopped models from appearing in ads by forcing any advertisement that so edits a picture to have to reveal that the image is not accurate. They’re not doing this based on any sort of “truth in advertising” mission — but because they believe it’s bad for the self-esteem of young girls to see airbrushed and photoshopped models.

It makes for a nice campaign, but it seems like a huge waste of time. Are girls really going to feel different after seeing a photo that says “this photo was adjusted” in fine print somewhere? They’re still going to look at the photo. In the end, it seems like this may be a case of trying to fight the symptoms of self-esteem issues, rather than the actual causes. I believe the studies that say many young people have serious self-esteem issues, but part of that is just being young. Tons of young people have low self-esteem because that’s generally a part of growing up and learning to be you. Is putting a silly stamp on magazine ads really going to change that? Why not focus instead on programs that actually improve someone’s self esteem such that even if they saw photos of impossibly skinny models, it wouldn’t bother them?

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Comments on “Couple Pushes For Law To Limit Photoshopping Models; Because It Hurts Young Girls' Self-Esteem”

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92 Comments
Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Market Value

Statistically speaking, that would mean we would only see those outliers rarely if ever. instead we see them everywhere (TV, Movies, magazines, side of busses, textbooks, cartons of ___ food, mannequins in stores, on the sides of buildings, sometimes on the inside of public bathroom doors… should i go on?)

Ninjasays:

I think they should limit advertising of gyms and equipment for exercising since it affects the self-esteem of the fat ppl.

Let the puritanism, moralism and politically correct police begin bashing my comment. Ah, they’ll be busy bashing Mike for pointing the obvious 😉

On a side note, I do think there’s too much Photoshopping with the models today and it does give a version of perfection that many women can’t achieve and many men desire which is something really bad. But the approach proposed in this article is just a big and utter fail.

Scotesays:

Re: Truth in Advertising for fitness models?

“I think they should limit advertising of gyms and equipment for exercising since it affects the self-esteem of the fat ppl.

Yeah, the reasoning may be off in the self-esteem campaign, but I do think we should have stricter truth in advertising laws. When you see a buff fitness model pimping for a new “As Seen on TV” shake weight or thigh master perhaps the ad should have to include the models actual work out regime the that actually resulted in their fitness? You know, the daily hour of cardio and the two hours in the gym they spend every other day?

Give me a break

I can see why highly-photoshopped models can hurt self-esteem. No one REALLY looks THAT good all the time.

I also think it’s important that people understand that. Sure the ad’s depict and imply that someone can look that good at all times if only they buy this, or use that, or wear skimpy clothes. It’s a farce though.

We place too much value on what the rich and famous are doing. What they’re wearing. What they look like. Models fall into that group. I don’t think that a disclaimer is going to remedy the problem that goes MUCH deeper into one of the many things that is wrong with society today.

Re: Re: Self-esteem

The two concepts are so unrelated I’m having problems putting them together long enough to argue your point. Are you seriously suggesting that Photoshopped advertisements are causing disrespect for normal looking people?

If someone is showing someone else disrespect due to them being “ugly”, then that person is an asshole. No amount of Photoshopping (or lack there of) is going to change that.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

Actually, I’m attempting to drive home your point with a 10 lb sledge hammer, plus a slightly subtler point. Your point is that people who do that are assholes. I agree. I made an extremely dick move by doing that. I know this, and I own it. Sue me (actually, given the nature of Techdirt in general, someone probably has a patent on being a dick and is already attempting to ascertain my identity for a lawsuit). The second point is that people who are going to act like that will do so no matter what. If it’s not about being ugly, it’ll be about something else.

This isn’t about respect. This is about people believing they have the right to not have their feelings hurt. That’s just stupid. Do I really think the parent is ugly? Hell, I don’t know. It’s some faceless person on the internet that I’ve never met in my life. Am I ugly? Probably by several people’s standards here. My idea of beauty is much different from ‘the norm’, and I’ve actually been made fun of because of what I think is beautiful. However, I developed a thick skin and explain how boring the world would be if everyone enjoyed the same things, and how boring it would be if everyone looked exactly the same.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

Yeah, who do women thing they are a minority that has been systematically repressed in our culture for centuries on end? Clearly it’s not about respect, it’s about people who don’t want to have their feelings hurt. Couldn’t possible be because systematic discrimination against women continues to this day, that women earn less for the same work, and that women in every profession have to deal with their appearance and level off attractiveness as a factor when it’s not even tangentially relevant.

You fight that good fight but keeping your head completely buried in the sand. Maybe if you keep insisting the problem isn’t real it will cease to exist?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

That’s a whole different fight, my friend. I’m not repressing anyone by calling them ugly. No amount of photoshop represses someone. This is about someone who feels bad wanting to make it so that no one is allowed to do anything that may make them feel that way.

I’m with you on repression. I’m with you about respecting people. I am not, however, with you about suppressing speech so that people get the warm and fucking fuzzies.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

“That’s a whole different fight, my friend. I’m not repressing anyone by calling them ugly.”

Yes you are. Period.

Nowhere did I say I was in favor of passing any law or the law brought up in the original article but then again that’s not what we’re talking about anyway, was it? Nice red herring though.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

Minority in context refers to a group that does not make up the dominant political force or voting majority. It’s a sociological minority which is not necessarily the same as a minority in the population numerically. This seems trivially obvious though so I’m not sure why you brought it up.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

dominant political force or voting majority

More women both as a percentage and as a count vote than men. Since 1964 more women have voted than men. What the hell is a “sociological minority”? That is a bullshit, made up phrase, that could only find root in the overly politically correct United States.

We have an electorate, women are a majority of that electorate.

btr1701says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

Minority in context refers to a group that
does not make up the dominant political force
or voting majority

Well, considering that they have superior numbers, that would logically translate into a voting majority should they choose to exercise that franchise, which in turn would eventually result in political dominance.

If women aren’t voting as much as men, they have only themselves to blame for it and therefore don’t really qualify as minorities in any sense of the word.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

I think you feminism dial is set about 3 notches to high. Women are not a minority in “our” culture. Nor are they a minority in the vast majority of cultures.

I will agree that women have been repressed (although I think you mean oppressed, which I’ll also grant is true). However, women are as responsible as men when it comes to their role in society, after all, you out number men.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

It’s your opinion then that women are the dominate political force in our culture? What the fuck country are you from because it sure as shit isn’t anywhere in North America or Europe. Women are absolutely a minority in the vast majority of cultures. Wake the fuck up.

Yes, women are responsible for their own oppression. Blame the victim. I suppose next you’ll tell us that black and brown people are responsible for fucking racism. I’m surprised you can read at all with your head stuck so far up your own ass.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

minority – The smaller number or part, esp. a number that is less than half the whole number.

Women are 51% of the population. They are, by definition, the majority. Also, women voters have outnumbered male voters since 1964, so why don’t women elect other women? You could have a drawn out conversation about campaign contributions, male dominated field, etc, etc. but the reality is women, as a demographic, could control the outcome of every election at every level in the US.

Your argument about racism is just stupid and attempts to draw a false comparison. Black people are a minority even if every black person cast the same vote they only represent ~17% of the population in the US.

Before you run your mouth you ought to consider getting educated.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

For someone who called my ability to read into question you should really learn the difference between repression and oppression, you repress a feeling, you oppress a people.

Some dictionaries will use give similar definitions but that’s the problem with dictionaries, they give the meaning based on common usage not on actual meaning which is why you find words like ain’t and irregardless.

hothmonstersays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

I think the issue Tereza is getting at is men have unrealistic expectation as to what women look like because of the amount of CGI used on already unnaturally attractive women. This can create unrealistic expectations for what their partner should look like and cause issues with being unable to be satisfied with a appearance of real women.

I think a lot of kids growing up today are are going to be kicked right in the junk by reality when they start dating girls over, say, 27 and realize that even the hottest ones have folds or blemishes, or stretch marks or whatever and that real boobs do not defy gravity.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

Ok, come here and make me stop being an asshole. What are you going to do? Stoop to my level and be an asshole by making fun of me? Beat my ass? Legislate being nice?

You know what? Eat a dick. I’m an asshole because I want to be. There’s not much you can do to stop me. If you try to beat my ass, you’ll go to jail and I’ll still be an asshole. If you legislate it, I’ll just be an asshole behind your back. You’ll still know about it too. I’ll just make sure my comments are sly enough to pass but still hurt your feelings. If you stoop to my level by making fun of me (or even responding to me!) it will just feed the asshole hate machine. Then we’ll make excuses for you like ‘they can’t help it, they’re just an asshole.’

Chronno S. Triggersays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

“We make excuses for them like ‘they can’t help it, they’re just an asshole.'”

Or “we make excuses for them like ‘they have an unrealistic vision of beauty'”

When you’re an asshole, that’s your problem, you are the asshole. When you have an unrealistic vision of beauty, that’s societies fault, not yours. So who’s coddling who?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-esteem

Except no one is suggesting that excuses the behavior but you. It’s a straw man. The fact that society allows this behavior to continue, even coddles it, in no way excuses it which was my original point to begin with. Both society and the individual can be at fault, it’s not an either or type of thing.

Off Our Chestssays:

Re: Re: Self-esteem

Your point is so important, Tereza. It’s not unlike politics…no real change comes from one side of the aisle alone.

We’d also add, that boys/men are also suffering from a real decline in self-esteem because of the images and expectations being presented them. The Self-Esteem Act benefits all.

And what’s the downside to Truth in Advertising? Thanks for adding your voice.

out_of_the_bluesays:

Mike in favor of false and misleading advertising.

Wonder how far that bias goes? As I’ve mentioned several times, Mike is /into/ advertising, that’s the “revenue stream” that he advises others to somehow tap — not make /products/, just sell image and “scarcity”.

Anyhoo, I’d ban any and all modification of photos. Yes, I know it’s been going on since the start of photography, and in painting before that. Long practice doesn’t excuse falsehoods. First Amendment doesn’t give a right to lie.

Austinsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The problem isn't the ads

I’m going to run under the vague assumption that you genuinely wish me well and say thanks. After all, if that was your best attempt at sarcasm, you’re doing it wrong.

That said, here’s a thought experiment to drive my point home:

On a day when it’s 69-73 degrees outside and sunny, go to your closet in the morning and pick out your clothes to wear. Don’t put much thought into it (yet) but rather just choose whatever first comes to mind. Now go outside and go about your day. No doubt, at some point during your day, you will run across a problem: you need somewhere to store something you’re carrying around. Might be your phone, your wallet, a receipt from the store, or a candy bar. Now, in this situation, the weather is good. You’re probably wearing shorts. WHY??? It’s not hot outside. You could’ve worn cargo pants and had ample room to store whatever you’re now trying to carry in your hand and juggle around. Yes, they’re not “cool” or “stylish” but yanno what? They’re affordable, and they’re the most functional piece of clothing you can wear. From a purely logical standpoint, a pair of cargo pants and a t-shirt with a single breast pocket (if you’re a guy) is the best outfit for every possible occasion. They’re lightweight, provide good freedom of movement, ample storage capacity (weighted against your waist, which is capable of supporting almost 6 times the dead vertical weight that your back is) and protection against dirt, bugs, or anything else that might otherwise get you dirty. Barring hot days (in which case I’d go with cargo shorts) there is no bad time to wear cargo pants. Why doesn’t everyone do that? Simple: because they’d rather do something “cool” than something that makes logical sense. And who creates cool? Lancome, et.al.

As I said before, stop buying this crap and they’ll stop selling it, then there won’t be any unrealistic expectations to meet in the first place. This is basic logic and economics, folks.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: The problem isn't the ads

“This is an issue with SOCIETY, not the law, and we need to have SOCIETAL reform, enacted via mutual agreement with each other”

What is it you think laws are if not mutual agreements with each other? Political authority is an integral part of what makes up a ‘SOCIETY.’ Why the rush to discount it at an agent of change? What makes you think ‘the economy’ would fix the problems you’re talking about? Selling people marked up shit they don’t really need by convincing them they really need it sounds like a really good business to me, what economic force is it that’s going to make that stop?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: The problem isn't the ads

Hi Austin.

Get yourself on to a reputable dating site (that is, stay away from the crooks). Put your paragraph which begins, “I’m a 24 year old white male” in your profile. Put a nice recent head-and-shoulders photo in there as well. Buy some membership time. Then contact one of the ladies there that takes your fancy. Suggest a meeting in a safe public place. Give her two days to respond. If no response, move on to the next woman; repeat as required.

Meet the woman. Be nice to her. Suggest another date in three days time. If she declines, do not stress, move on to the next woman. You will definitely have a girlfriend within a month and she will love you deeply. There are large numbers of ladies out there who are absolutely desperate to get a man with a brain, a conscience and a job. You qualify. There are also large numbers of ladies who are unable to recognize quality, that is their problem not yours. If the relationship is not good for both of you, move on.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Mike in favor of false and misleading advertising.

Soo… you’re actually serious with this statement? I’ve come to expect a bit higher quality argument from you, blue.

Does your new interpretation of the First Amendment apply to corporations, lobbying groups, and politicians? How about individuals? Is a lie of omission a true ‘lie’, or is that still covered under the New First Amendment? How about the citation of ‘facts’ that have since been proven wrong? Is an incorrect statement to be help liable is a lie? How about works of fiction? By definition, all fictional works are completely fabricated, and therefor ‘lies’.

Care to expand on your position?

Rikuosays:

Re: Re: Mike in favor of false and misleading advertising.

And once again, you attack Mike while completely missing the point of the article.
No, Mike is not in favour of false and misleading advertising. I have never read anywhere in any of his articles that he is.

As for the last two lines…here’s what I think happened with you. You read the article and here’s your thought process: “Altered photo of models is bad. Therefore altered photos IN GENERAL is bad. Therefore ban all modifications of photos”.
Here’s a tip. Before you write a comment here, think carefully about what you want to say and try to word it more carefully. If what you want comes to pass, then it would be illegal for me just to get rid of the “red eye” in photos. Not to mention a slap to First Amendment freedoms.

Ima Fishsays:

Years ago, back in the late 80s or early 90s I worked at a PBS affiliate and there was some show, I believe it was Frontline, which devoted a program to anorexia.

Most people think that anorexia is caused by young girls trying to emulate fashion models. However, there is no evidence to support that. In fact, the interesting thing about anorexia is that the rates of teenage girls suffering from it remains static across various cultures and countries.

So the rates of anorexia are the same for cultures that find thinness attractive and for cultures that find heaviness/chunkiness attractive.

In other words, there is no evidence that cultures that praise thinness causes anorexia.

Nicksays:

I usually agree with what I read on Techdirt, but I’m having some problems with this one.

I can agree that this couple probably has no legal basis.

I can’t agree though, that low self esteem is just a part of growing up. I’m not sure what you are saying the “symptoms of self-esteem issues” are here. I think these Photoshopped pictures are part of the cause and they can never be lived up to.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

When I was a teenager (many moons ago), it wasn’t so much the weight issue that confused me with ads and magazine photos so much as the skin these models, supposedly my age, were sporting. yeahrite.

I had no clue back then about photoshopping, but I’m sure kids today do.

I’m in agreement with the posters above regarding truth in advertising – a product’s supposed “after” shots shouldn’t have to be airbrushed or photoshopped. It isn’t so much the self esteem as the blatant lie. In that respect, I have little issue with a required statement about how the photos might’ve been altered.

Joesays:

Re: Re:

+1 to this. While I don’t think this will solve issues surrounding teen self esteem, I do think it’s a positive step. Girls do look for external cues and these magazines do set up rather impossible thresholds for ‘the perfect look, the perfect life’. I think we could argue over how effective this will be, but otherwise, I’ve got no problems with this.

Anonymoussays:

Professional driver, closed course, do not attempt

TV adverts for cars frequently state: Professional driver, closed course, do not attempt.
This disclaimer seems comparable to the “This image has been photoshopped” disclaimer.
Does anyone know whether the car advert disclaimer is a law/regulation, and whether there are any studies that indicate whether or not it influences behaviour. I have always assumed that it is a CYA from the legal department.

fogbugzdsays:

I suspect that it is very, very rare for any unaltered photo to go into any type of fashion magazine or web site. I suspect every picture that I see in a magazine or on the Internet has been altered.

Good news sites might be a bit more careful to present unaltered images, but even news sites with high standards generally permit cropping and correcting for things like brightness, contrast, and hue.

Exactly where do you draw the line on what is acceptable and what isn’t. If you insist that all altered photos be labeled as altered, then pretty much every photo that you see is going to have the tag on it, thus rendering the tag meaningless.

But really, there isn’t really that much difference between photoshopping skin tone or a waist line and doing a studio setup that flatters the model in ways that are not natural.

Scotesays:

Re: There is a difference between flattering poses and digital morphs

Yes there is a difference. With lighting and posing techniques there is a chance that people can recognize them for what they are. One can see that a photo is taken from a high angle to minimize neck wrinkles, or that the hips are twisted to make the waist seem narrower, etc. Not true with digital morphing, which can reshape any part of the face or body.

In many cases, such retouching is not material to the ad. If a car ad retouches the man or woman who cares? But if a make up ad that claims to minimize wrinkles is retouched, then the retouching may be relevant.

Sneejesays:

Here's a thought...

How much longer until fashion magazines decide not to bother photoshopping real people at all? We know that virtual pop acts exist already, why continue to pay millions to photoshop supermodels to hide imperfections (and fight that battle) when you can just create the perfect model virtually?

I know, we’re far from that–too much cache brought by an actual famous person to bother with a facsimile.

Charlie Dsays:

Self Esteem

I agree with Mike Masnick. Why not invest in creating working self-images and solid self-esteem. Rather than taking your sense of self from a magazine or photograph, have an actualized self-image and not worry what the world or other people see. It is certainly more healthy and a lots simpler. If you want to be a stick figure with poufy lips, then go for it. If you want to be real? that?s even better.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: How About Some Parenting

Mom: Honey, do not worry to much about being popular in school. You can never be liked by everybody, nor is that important. There are lots of nasty social status games that go on in school. Pick your friends based on character. The girls who are nasty to you have just told you that their own characters are bad. That makes it easy to eliminate them from consideration. You only need a few nice girls to be friends with; that is enough.

You know those advertisements you see in magazines? Well, all the women in those ads are not actually as perfect as they seem. The pictures are all manipulated. It used to be called “airbrushing” but now it gets called “photoshopping”.

Don’t forget the boys as well. A lot of them are just desperate to have a girlfriend, but have no idea how. Make it easy for them. I have been dealing with men for a lot longer than you. Momma is always here to help you, sweetie.

** Hugs daughter **

btr1701says:

Just what we need...

Yes, that’s what this country needs. Another law.

What’s next? Are movies going to be required to run disclaimers along the bottom of the screen every time an actress with a boob job appears on screen?

Hell, even makeup makes women look better than they really do. Do we need a law requiring all women to promptly disclose to anyone they speak to how much and what type of makeup they’re wearing?

Anonymoussays:

The self-esteem thing does seem silly, but isn’t the truth in advertising issue here pretty serious (especially in cases where it’s actually the photoshopping that’s hiding various “flaws” rather than the products as advertised)?

I feel like it could be good for competition if a conspicuous notice were required for retouched photos in such ads–we’d probably see a lot more ads with genuine un-retouched (and labeled as such) before and after pictures, which would be a problem for the products that don’t actually work well.

Frostsays:

Sounds like a good initiative to me.

It’s not just young girls, either, it’s young men too. The youngest generation(s) actually believe that it is possible for human beings, specifically female beings, to be impossibly perfect and they judge real-world people according to those standards.

Young girls as well have begun judging each other based on how well they can match not the models, but the highly cleaned up and idealized versions they see in pictures over and over and over again.

Personally I’d like to see a total ban on distorting photographs with Photoshop, because it doesn’t matter if people are informed about the pictures being fake – they still have the negative effects. I doubt if such a ban would have a chance in hell, though, so a better plan would be to just change society into one that isn’t money based. That would make all advertising moot overnight, which would be much more sane, and would also save mankind. Literally. The profit motive and fiat money-based conspicuous consumption society we’ve built is herding us straight towards destruction and if we don’t start using real-world values to use our resources wisely, we’re doomed as a species anyway.

Advertising is just one really ugly and nasty side effect that we’re suffering under because of the need to make a profit rather than the need to create things people need sustainably.

Attorney in Albuquerque, NM

You can look at it from that point of view or you can see it as a motivational tool, especially when it comes to the growing rate of obesity among young people. Although the physical traits are exaggerated in those magazines the fact is everyone should try to look half as good as the people in the magazines but never go to extremes.

Attorney in Albuquerque, NM

You can look at it from that point of view or you can see it as a motivational tool, especially when it comes to the growing rate of obesity among young people. Although the physical traits are exaggerated in those magazines the fact is everyone should try to look half as good as the people in the magazines but never go to extremes.

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