Australian Magazines to Carry Airbrush Warnings?Posted on Jul 6th 2010 2:00PM by Martha Edwards
The retouching issue has been on our minds for ages: Should already-thin models and celebrities be allowed to be airbrushed and photoshopped to make them look longer, leaner and even more perfect than they already are, thereby making the rest of us feel only slightly more attractive than chopped liver? The very practice of airbrushing can have a lasting impact on the self-confidence of many women and, more importantly, it can hinder the development of a healthy sense of body image in our young girls.
But while the idea of banning airbrushing here is little more than a pipe dream, government officials Down Under are taking the matter much more seriously. A proposed law won't ban retouching altogether, but it will require altered photos to come with a disclaimer to warn impressionable minds that the image isn't exactly telling the truth. Adhering to the guidelines will earn magazines a "body image tick," kind of like the health symbols on foods.
Australia's also developing new code of conduct rules for fashion magazines. Under these new guidelines, heavy retouching, including things like reducing waist sizes, lengthening legs and erasing freckles, will be discouraged.
"Body image is an issue that we must take seriously because it is affecting the health and happiness of substantial sections of our community," said Kate Ellis, the Australian Youth Minister in a press release. "The symbol is a win for consumers. It will empower consumers to tell the fashion, beauty, media and modeling industries what they want and provide greater choice."
Opponents of the new rules -- mostly fashion designers -- argue that their clothes just look better on thinner models. While that may be a fair point in some instances, it doesn't explain why already-thin models need to be transformed into scary-skinny abominations like this model was. And yes, plus-sized models aren't always the answer -- recent studies show that they may also be harmful to our self-esteem -- but that doesn't exactly explain why a supermodel needs to have her 26-inch waist shrunk and her freckles removed. (Also, why is it only super-thin or plus-sized? Where is the healthy in-between?)
Skinny celebrities don't come with a warning label, but I think re-touched photos deserve one. Don't you?