In France, a new law came into action on the 1st October 2017. Whenever a photo which is used for advertising is edited or re-touched, it must bear the words “photographie retouchée” clearly on the advert. This acts as a warning that the model has been edited to appear thinner or larger. The aim of this action is to tackle misleading advertising. Legal action can be taken against companies who choose not to follow these regulations. Here at Piñera del Olmo, our lawyers are very interested in the legal side of advertising.
According to a French Public health report, the enhanced images which are used in magazines, on billboards and online can reduce self-esteem. Often the public, especially young girls, see the images and feel pressure to attain a similar unobtainable body shape.
The French law states that it is the advertiser who is responsable for placing the warning message on any re-touched adverts. If not, they could face a fine from 37.500 euros to 30% of the cost of creating the publicity. It is important to highlight the fact that France is not the only country taking action against this negative advertising: Israel and Argentina implement similar methods to curb the influence of re-touched adverts.
With the onset of tougher French regulations, questions are being asked as to whether Spain should follow suit. The current Spanish General Publicity Law bans misleading advertising, however it does not explicitly state that an edited or retouched photo is ‘misleading’. Despite the current Spanish law, some pressure groups are encouraging the Congreso de los Diputados to follow the French lead and create a law specifically against the editing of photos. It is uncertain as to whether we will see a similar regulation in Spain anytime soon.
Some people question the need for such strong regulations for advertising. A report into the prevalence of eating disorders in Spain suggested that between 4.1 and 4.5% of young people suffer from a disorder. It seems that we should be doing all that we can to reduce this number. A way of doing so would be to reduce the pressure on young people to aspire to be of a specific shape. A law against re-touching of models in adverts may be a step towards preventing this.
What’s more, the French law goes even further to prevent the use of underweight models in the media. Under their regulations, models will be required to provide a medical certificate stating that they are a healthy weight, before they are able to work. This legal progress to combat negative body image is taking rapid steps in France.
Despite the clear progress of the French law, there are still limitations. Photoshopped pictures often focus on the editing of the body, when in reality a lot of editing is also done on the face. This is especially misleading when the adverts are for make-up or beauty products. Furthermore, problems also arise with the developments in video editing. Now, retouching does not only apply to images used in publications, but also to audiovisual adverts on-screen. A common example is the use of re-touching in music videos.
There is currently no movement towards a new law to target the misleading editing of advertising images, however there is certainly an argument for tougher laws. By restricting the editing used for marketing, we can combat false advertising and the promotion of negative body types.
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