Though discussion is a powerful force, the one most powerful avenue for change can be legislation. In the US and especially around the world laws have been discussed and enacted to help protect citizens and reduce the effects of Photoshop.
Israel’s “Photoshop Law” (Source: Time)
In the spring of 2012 Israel passed a law prohibiting models considered malnourished by the World Health Organization’s standards, with BMI’s 18.5 or below. The law also requires advertisers to inform consumers if the images were digitally altered to make the models look thinner.
Critics of the law have complained the law persecutes women who might be naturally thin, and the law should focus on overall health, not BMI, which is not always accurate. However, overall health is much more difficult to pin down and regulate. Also, the law does not come with criminal consequences, however it provides grounds for people to stand on if they wish to sue advertisers or designers and hopefully the threat of a lawsuit will keep the media in line.
At this point the law seems more like guidelines than rules, but it’s a step in the right direction and bridges the gap between being too restrictive and too controlling.
Makeup Ads in the United Kingdom
The UK has tried, unsuccessfully, to ban Photoshop from advertisements completely and instead has banned multiple makeup adds for being misleading. The BBC reported on two advertisements, one featuring Julia Roberts for Lancome and another featuring model Christy Turlington for Maybelline, both being banned for not accurately representing the product.
Guy Parker, the chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority explains to the BBC, “if advertisers go too far in using airbrushing and other post-production techniques to alter the appearance of models and it’s likely to mislead people, then that’s wrong and we’ll stop the ads.”
Though the ASA operates on a case by case basis, and therefore can not catch everything, simply by banning some advertisements they raise awareness for the problem as a whole.
In the United States
It’s no secret the US is big on free speech and some may argue laws regulating the use of Photoshop and the sizes of models restrict that free speech. However, other advertisements in the past have been outlawed due to the effect they had on the public’s health. Ads glamorizing cigarettes are illegal and most people think nothing of it. How is Photoshop any different? Though the connection is less direct between its use and the public’s health, the connection is still there.