Photoshopped Images Are Now Legally Required to Be Labeled in France
The French fashion industry is moving in a healthier direction. Will the rest of the world follow?
In 2009, a group of 50 French politicians pushed for a law requiring all digitally altered images of models to include a notice that the photo had been retouched. It was accompanied by a bylaw requiring all models applying for jobs within France to turn in a medical certification from their doctors proving that their overall health is good “in terms of body mass index,” reported the Agence France-Presse.
Nearly eight years later, deputies in France’s National Assembly, the country’s lower house of Parliament, passed the bills.
Starting October 1, all ad agencies are expected to print “photographie retouchée” (or “retouched photograph”) on all manipulated images.
The second law goes into effect May 6 and will apply to any model from the European Union who is working in France. Employers that don’t require doctor’s notes can face up to six months or imprisonment and a fine of 75,000 euros.
"These are the things that make women self conscious" - Zendaya, 2015
“The two texts published today in the Journal Officiel aim to act on body image in society, so as to avoid the promotion of beauty ideals that are inaccessible and to prevent anorexia in young people,” France’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Marisol Touraine, said on Friday.
And according to the American Medical Association, there’s reason to believe that rampant photoshopping may negatively affect a person’s body image and cause eating disorders.
“A large body of literature links exposure to media-propagated images of unrealistic body images to eating disorders and other child and adolescent health problems,” they stated in 2011.
In recent years, the United Kingdom has banned ads that are overly airbrushed and the government has taken measures to set standards for the modeling industry, including a BMI minimum for models. Back in 2012, Israel passed a law banning underweight models, and Italy and Spain have adopted measures to send severely thin models home.
In the United States, public outcries and celebrity callouts have helped hold ad agencies accountable.
In the Spring of 2014, Aerie launched an ad campaign that “challenged supermodel standards” for young women.
But it’s still a move that most fashion brands or magazines rarely make.
Time and time again, before-and-after photos have been released, revealing an air-brush-crazed industry, unwilling to budge.
In 2015, Zendaya, American actress and singer, posted a picture from her Modeliste magazine photo shoot where her hips and waist were significantly slimmed down.
“These are the things that make women self conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have,” she stated.
The magazine later pulled down the image and apologized.
“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 behavior,” said Touraine, the French minister. “The objective is also to protect the health of a category of the population particularly touched by this risk: models.”