Skinny models that promote an unrealistic standard of beauty could soon come with warning labels in Norway if the country adopts a new action plan to curb eating disorders by discouraging deceptive advertising.
Audun Lysbakken, the country’s equality minister, has proposed labeling photos of digitally-altered images of thin models with a warning that says, “This advertisement has been altered and presents an inaccurate image of how this model really looks.” England and France have also proposed measures to curtail unrealistic images of bodies, but no such measure has been considered in the U.S. yet.
Photoshopped images of models are often blamed for the prevalence of eating disorders around the world. Sometimes, the retouching is subtle — as in a 2007 image of Faith Hill for Redbook in which the singer’s arms were slimmed, crow’s feet removed, and clavicle smoothed — or sometimes it’s more overt, as in the famous Ralph Lauren Photoshop blunder that made a model’s head bigger than her waist. Women’s blogs such as Jezebel have worked to unveil the pre-touch-up photos of models so their readers can see for themselves exactly how altered the average photo shoot can be. The Photoshopped images affect men too, giving them unrealistic expectations of how women should look.
But will warning labels actually help to dispel notions of perfection in young girls? Ashley Lauren Samsa, a writer for Ms. Magazine, isn’t sure. “I grew up my whole life knowing that images were altered to make the models appear more ‘attractive,’ but that didn’t stop me from wanting to look like them anyway. And, with eating disorder statistics on the rise as much as they are, I wonder if just knowing it’s fake is enough,” she wrote.