Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Point, Shoot, Retouch and Label?

The New York Times online last week featured a piece about French Parliament member and mother of two teenage girls, Valerie Boyer, who has introduced a draft law that would mandate that retouched photographs appearing in advertisements feature a label that clearly discloses their digital alterations.

Unsurprisingly, Boyer faces opposition—from people that claim that Michelangelo’s paintings prove that this idealization of women is age-old; from people that argue anorexia is far too complex a disorder to pin the blame on a few photographs; and from people that claim that women and girls must already know that the photographs have been retouched because they’re so unrealistic.

Boyer defends her case, echoing some long-held Hardy Girls sentiments along the way: “If someone wants to make life a success, wants to feel good in their skin, wants to be part of society, one has to be thin or skinny, and then it’s not enough — one will have [her] body transformed with software that alters the image, so we enter a standardized and brainwashed world, and those who aren’t part of it are excluded from society.”

This exclusion is precisely where we, as a society, and our girls and women run into trouble. The constant media barrage instills in girls and women the belief that they will never be good enough, but eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are only a couple of a whole host of issues research has proven to result from feeling as if one will never be thin/pretty/sexually appealing enough to measure up. These include, but are not limited to, depression, self-mutilation, alcoholism, and drug use. We don’t mean to make light of eating disorders and certainly hold media culpable, but we also embrace that it’s far too simplistic to claim that people develop eating disorders because they read magazines.

Now, having acknowledged the complex web that impossible societal expectations weave — we’re all for labeling retouched photos. It’s an appropriate first step toward calling out unrealistic standards of beauty in a consistent way.

What do you think?


Kate said...

"Truth in advertising." This makes perfect sense. We are being sold lies, which is legally unacceptable when dealing with specific products (for example, MillerCoors just getting slapped for advertising their plain old bottle caps as "new" Taste Protector lids) - so it should be with the indirect product they use to sell.

By the way - can we include banning the use of falsh eyelashes in mascara commercials?!? A tiny byline of "dramatization" is not acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Looks like manual photo retouch to me.