Under a new French law, advertising publications must label all commercial images where the model has been slimmed down or fleshed out “photographie retouchée” which means ‘retouched photograph’, or face a hefty fine of about $44,000. It is no secret that people from all around the globe look to France as the source of fashion, and the French government wants to reduce the number of unrealistic images that millions of people are shown every day.
The legislative intent behind the law is not to stifle creativity or speech, but to help improve the health of young women and men. In fact, France has already passed legislation with the same goal in mind that requires all models have a healthy Body Mass Index or BMI.
Getty Images has also joined the cause and recently emailed its stock photo contributors stating, “that you do not submit to us any creative content depicting models whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner or larger.” Other companies like Dove and American Eagle Outfitters have joined the anti-Photoshop movement as well with campaigns focused on real women.
Some critics may claim that this type of law or policy is infringing on people’s rights of free speech or creative expression (looking at you USA). But the response to the American free speech argument is that not all speech is protected under the First Amendment, and there is a strong argument that the indirect effect of these unhealthy or unrealistic images of models is causing harm to the public. Furthermore, the unrealistic images are causing direct harm for the models in them.
With that being said, there has not been much backlash from this movement because of abundant amount of proof that promoting unrealistic beauty standards does have a fatal effect on young people everywhere. In France, eating disorders are the second highest cause of death among 15-24-year-olds, and about 600,000 young people suffer from an eating disorder.
Kendrick Lamar put it best,
“I’m so f****n’ sick and tired of the Photoshop
Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor
Show me somethin’ natural like a** with some stretchmark.”
So, let’s hope this movement towards authenticity continues strong, and remember the chicest accessory is self-love.
If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder please visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/find-treatment/treatment-and-support-groups or call 1-800-931-2237.