BODY POL­I­TICS

Morn­ing raves; ho­tel-group fit­ness; Pho­to­shop faces the law

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

no more fake thigh gaps and spaghetti limbs? US lob­by­ists look­ing to safe­guard women’s self-es­teem are hop­ing to get The Truth in Ad­ver­tis­ing Act of 2014 (also known as the An­tiPho­to­shop Bill) passed into law. It aims to stem the flow of highly Pho­to­shopped and dras­ti­cally al­tered fash­ion and beauty im­ages used in the me­dia. In the UK, such laws al­ready ex­ist and ad­ver­tis­ers have come un­der fire for us­ing ‘mu­tant’ im­ages in their cam­paigns, such as mas­cara ad­verts where the model’s eye­lashes have been dig­i­tally length­ened. But while these re­stric­tions have been im­ple­mented in the pub­lic in­ter­est, their power to stop ad­ver­tis­ers from mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion is yet to be proven. If found guilty of these prac­tices, ad­ver­tis­ers may have to pay a fine. And even if they get some bad press, many bat­tle on un­til their next Pho­to­shop scan­dal (any pub­lic­ity be­ing good pub­lic­ity?). It seems a worth­while risk for them to take.

Those in sup­port of the bill be­lieve that the me­dia im­ages we see di­min­ish our self-es­teem and glam­or­ise an ideal that is unattain­able for most women. While this is a no­ble and nec­es­sary cause to back, I am still un­sure whether sim­ply im­ple­ment­ing laws op­pos­ing such ac­tions is worth any­one’s time or money. These ads and im­ages should be mon­i­tored, the pa­ram­e­ters of ‘ex­ces­sive Pho­to­shop’ must be de­cided on and, if it comes to it, mag­a­zines should be re­quired to is­sue dis­claimers on which im­ages have ex­ceeded the le­gal Pho­to­shop lim­its. Ed­i­to­rial and ad­ver­tis­ing spreads are, how­ever, in­her­ently in­tended to sell view­ers and read­ers a dream; to al­low them to sus­pend re­al­ity while flip­ping through their pages. In some ways as­pi­ra­tional and in oth­ers unattain­able, re­al­is­ti­cally we can­not look to them as per­sonal goals to try to recre­ate. And when we do, leg­is­la­tion won’t teach us how to love our­selves. I do ap­pre­ci­ate the im­por­tance of not let­ting a del­uge of al­tered im­ages al­ter our sense of re­al­ity, but ul­ti­mately the onus is on us to rely on our ‘in­ner critic’ when view­ing the im­agery around us. A healthy dose of skep­ti­cism al­ways goes a long way.

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