the surgeon general’s Photoshop warning
The Liberal Democrats, the third-largest party in Britain, after Labor and the Conservatives, adopted Ms. Swinson’s proposal for a labeling system this month as part of their official platform. The party wants to ban altered photos entirely in ads aimed at children under 16.
On retouching, even Ms. Swinson acknowledged that “a little bit is necessary to make a good photo.” Under her proposal, all advertising photos would be rated, perhaps on a scale from 1 to 4, depending on the degree of retouching. A 1 might involve only altered lighting, for example, while a 4 might warn of digital cosmetic surgery, she said. And the label would have to include an explanation of the changes.
In France last week, Valerie Boyer, a lawmaker from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party, introduced a similar bill in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament. She argued that altered images were undermining young women’s ability to control their own destinies. “These photos can lead people to believe in realities that, very often, do not exist,” she said.
In her quest to rid the media of misleading images, Ms. Boyer wants to go even further than the Liberal Democrats in Britain. Her bill would require warning labels on retouched photos published for editorial purposes as well as those in print ads. Violators could face fines of 37,500 euros, or almost $55,000, or up to 50 percent of the cost of an advertisement.
Wow. A part of me is relieved but geez, shouldn’t this be the stuff of educational campaigns and classroom demonstrations rather than banning photoshop in ads? It seems that slapping a disclaimer on an image is really missing the point anyway – you look at an image and whether you know it’s fake or not, it still has a certain psychological effect on you. The only healthy way out of this is to foster a less body-obsessed, beauty-worshipping culture. Of course, that’s also the hard way. I’m usually for regulation of this or that, but this is just a little strange.