Health warnings on airbrushed photographs?

A group of French politicians has proposed a law that would require a warning to be placed on digitally enhanced fashion images. From The Telegraph:

A group of 50 politicians want a new law stating published images must have bold printed notice stating they have been digitally enhanced.
Campaigning MP Valerie Boyer, of President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, said the wording should read:"Retouched photograph aimed at changing a person's physical appearance".
Mrs Boyer, who has also written a government report on anorexia and obesity, added: "We want to combat the stereotypical image that all women are young and slim.
"These photos can lead people to believe in a reality that does not actually exist, and have a detrimental effect on adolescents. "Many young people, particularly girls, do not know the difference between the virtual and reality, and can develop complexes from a very young age.

I don't really see the point, unless they were also going to require disclaimers for makeup and flattering lighting. And anyway, the root of the problem is not that images are altered, but that the media focuses obsessively and very superficially on beauty. Replacing airbrushed models with non-airbrushed models won't change that fact, because the models will probably still look better than your average person.

Fashion Photos

Posted on Wed Sep 23, 2009


Well at least in the UK we have rule regarding advertising that means that any digital enhancement that relates to the product has to be noted on in the advert. So currently some mascara adverts have to say "enhanced in post production" because they've digitally added length to the eye lashes.

Personally I 'd like to see the culture of wearing make up to disappear. I don't understand why women think it improves the way they look, it just makes me think that they are insecure and often they just look like clowns.
Posted by Mr R  on  Thu Sep 24, 2009  at  02:17 AM
I am not insecure...but I still like makeup...b/c it enhances things I find particularly attractive about myself. Physical appearance is still important...meeting someone in person gives that person a chance to look at you and decide, based on your appearance, what type of person you are. Well groomed and neat looking can imply that you are organized and fastidious. A perfect candidate for a job or business relation. Whether or not it is true has nothing to do with's a way for another person to "get to know" you even if they don't KNOW you. I will continue to look clownish, thanks.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Thu Sep 24, 2009  at  06:38 AM
Sorry, Alex but I think you really did miss the point. Digitally manipulating people is different (very different). Take the eyelash example mentioned; if a product actually lengthened your eyelash then I would have no problem with it being photographed doing what it does but simply adding length with photoshop and claiming that is your product is a different thing (a lie, actually).

If there was a lighting trick that created the appearance of longer eyelashes it would be deceptive (but it is the kind of deception that commonplace) but not a lie. I admit that there is plenty of gray area but that does not make telling lies OK(I am very aware that advertising has become about lies but that is exactly what I object too--persuasion and even deception are OK but lies are not).

Actors/Actresses/Singers/Models are products too.

The whole punting the issue as "the media are creating the superficiality of beauty" is also a copout even if true. That is not the point, yes some people are genetically different and appeal aesthetically to more people but modifying a whole wide range of people to look like the genetic "outliers" is hardly the solution.
Posted by floormaster squeeze  on  Thu Sep 24, 2009  at  08:25 AM
I LIKE this idea. Too many people don't readily realize that most (if not all) models, actresses, etc in these ads and magazines have been practically re-drawn to make them conform to some artificial standard that is impossible to reproduce in real life.

Kudos to the French on this one!! :cheese:
Posted by daveprime  in  Deep in the sticks...*yay internet!!*  on  Thu Sep 24, 2009  at  07:15 PM
I actually kind of agree with the warning thing. I didn't realize so much 'touch up' was done to models that you see on magazine covers. Now that I know about it and look for it, it's hilarious how some of them look. Literally, humans do not and can not look like some of these pictures turn out. Yet young girls see those pictures and think that's how their bodies should look. Impossibly long arms and legs, impossibly thin torsos, it's just ridiculous. Maybe the labels would make them go back to just using un-photoshopped pictures of women who were perfectly beautiful to begin with.
Posted by Kristen55  on  Sat Sep 26, 2009  at  01:39 PM
It is deeply ironic that so much Western emphasis concerns the essentially faked photos of women yet these same models will only eat organic, non-GM, wholistic, free-range lettuce leaves.
Posted by Joel B1  in  Hobart, Tasmania  on  Mon Sep 28, 2009  at  12:49 AM
Oh wow, as if this hasn't been going on for decades. It's just easier now for almost anyone to do it. Look at old photos of models, look at the legs especially. There has been lengthening there because in almost any culture long legs equates to beautiful, even when it isn't as overblown as some other features of the body. However, the photographic modification is getting worse because it is easir to do and it is influencing children to a unhealthy degree I think. I don't generally like the idea of warning labels since they are overused and often trite, thereby weakening the ones that need to exist, bu this is one I think I can go along with.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Mon Sep 28, 2009  at  09:49 AM
To be really informative, the disclaimers should say, "This model has starved herself half to death, had her back teeth extracted, had ribs removed, had collagen shot into her lips and cheeks, had bags of silicone gel implanted in her chest, shot poison into her face to supress wrinkles, yanked out half her eyebrows, shaved off all her body hair, and covered her entire body with makeup, and we still had use special lighting and lenses and then doctor the photo to get it to look like this."
Posted by Big Gary  on  Mon Sep 28, 2009  at  05:21 PM
Hey Big Gary, you're right. That should be the warning, in text tha matches the size of the photo. Magazne covers won't hae room for anything else, maybe te magazines will get the hint.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Tue Sep 29, 2009  at  07:53 PM
I just has a thought right after leaving the website. A better way to discourage this is to require that the unaltered photo be printed next to the altered photo, same size, with each cearly labeled.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Tue Sep 29, 2009  at  07:58 PM
I like ripping out half my eyebrows thanks very much!! 😉
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Wed Sep 30, 2009  at  11:57 AM
Clearly, this situation will not be resolved until everyone is made equal in reality . . . Physical adjustements can be made to the overly aesthetic until they are closer to the average, and the same can be done to all people who are outliers in every feature. The blueprint for such a paradisical society is the story "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut ( Full text )
Posted by D F Stuckey  on  Wed Sep 30, 2009  at  03:57 PM
By all means, strip people of the last shred of individuality they have. Just so you can obtain an "equal" society.
What about changing how people think, rather than changing how they look?

Anyway, what I think would be hilarious is to see all you folk who say "yeah! they are ALL fake and NOOO woman is REALLY that skinny or that beautiful naturally." proven wrong. I think it'd really cause your fatty, ugly little hearts to just pop with terror. It'd really cut the balls off of most women, so to speak, if they found out that not every model really needs editing in order to be beautiful.
I rather like seeing females with out makeup, but that doesn't mean I think its terrible that some wear it. I think males should be more free to wear makeup with out being judged as "gay" or effeminate. Its just a way of bringing certain aspects of the face into stronger focus. The positive effect of concealment is that the pure shape and texture of the face becomes more apparent, while wrinkles, scars and blemishes disappear.
Posted by Key  on  Thu Oct 01, 2009  at  04:13 PM
By all means, strip people of the last shred of individuality they have. Just so you can obtain an "equal" society.
What about changing how people think, rather than changing how they look?

Thats what the earpieces are for 😊. . . besides, if everyone agrees, then everyone is stripped of the uttermost freedom - one of the only good Heinlien bits left in the STARSHIP TROOPERS movie was Micheal Ironside's line "Son, never be afraid to make up your own mind - in the end, its the only real freedom we have."
Posted by D F Stuckey  on  Thu Oct 01, 2009  at  04:22 PM
Key...I know a lot of beautiful women...women that are size 0s and 1s...that are tall and slim...but they still don't have the appearance of a model. Their bodies still have things like hair, pores, small scars, freckles, moles, etc...things that you don't see on magazine covers unless you're Cindy Crawford. Airbrushing doesn't just make you thin and change the size of your pupils. They remove EVERYTHING that you get naturally from your environment and genetics...
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Fri Oct 02, 2009  at  05:45 AM
Problem is, the anti-fat industry is starting to take on some rather sinister and ludicrous positions - - so that people aren't taking the health message seriously.

Coming form acountry where the average 12YO girl weighs 120Kgs ( Wiki for a conversion to the British measures you seppos still love) and the average size compares to a US32 and women are claiming that their increased diabetes and heart problems are due to work stress . . . You see why I take these arguments with a grain of salt.
Posted by D F Stuckey  on  Sun Oct 04, 2009  at  10:07 PM
There is a really enlightening video on YouTube regarding photoshopping an average beautiful girl into the angelic cover model ( Only after seeing that did I realize how much doctoring is going on in the advertising, esp. in magazines for teens, which are nothing more but pictures with a few lines of text here and there, regarding someone's new boyfriend, breasts, lips or tummy. So, I strongly support what the French are proposing.

BTW I just HATE kid's cartoons which emphasize on girls having unnaturally long legs and big eyes, for example, Bratz. To me they look utterly idiotic, let alone that there is no story aside from 'hey look, I'm, like, totally cool'. Sry for bad English.

I dare say that girls in Serbia are not generally overweight and most of them are quite pleasant to look at.
Posted by Eric the Bananaman  on  Wed Oct 07, 2009  at  05:41 AM
Over on Yahoo! one of their articles, in the fashion section, reports that Ralph Lauren is in trouble for printing a cover photo of model that had been so altered her head is bigger than her pelvis. It's an interesting article. This is an issue that seems to be a gathering storm.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Wed Oct 07, 2009  at  06:53 PM
"I dare say that girls in Serbia are not generally overweight and most of them are quite pleasant to look at."

Ummmmm . . . from my experience, after age 30 most Serbian females put on a lot of weight, much like rural Italians and in fact rural Europeans of every stripe.

By your theory, the people of equatorial Africa, safely devoid of telvisoons and magazines, must be pictures of health. Care to comment?
Posted by D F Stuckey  on  Thu Oct 08, 2009  at  09:22 PM
Just fat people with a chip on their shoulder and too much fee time trying to spread "awareness" to the rest of us.
Posted by Mike  on  Fri Oct 16, 2009  at  02:11 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.