Do It For the Girls: Sign the Truth in Advertising Petition

You Know It's Photoshop

You Know It's PhotoshopThere’s been enough talk about Photoshopped images in advertising that nowadays most of us women know a digitally altered image when we see one.

That’s not to say it doesn’t make us feel bad about ourselves, but at least we realize that the images of perfect bodies we’re bombarded with day after day are unrealistic.

Not so for young girls.

According to Adios Barbie, 69% of elementary school girls say magazine images influence their concept of ideal body shape.

We’re talking girls under the age of 11. That is not OK.

That’s why I’m signing the petition for Congress to pass the Truth in Advertising Act. The act would require a label on any advertising that digitally alters the human body—including shape, size, proportion, and skin color—indicating that the image has been manipulated as such.

It’s like a warning label for Photoshopped ads.

Now let me say this: I am not inherently against photo editing. In fact I like to spruce things up myself on my own pictures—a little brighter here, a little sharper there. My touch-ups are dramatically different than knocking off ten pounds or completely changing skin color, of course, but they are nevertheless alterations.

So I think it’s important to remember that this act doesn’t prohibit Photoshopping, it just strives to make consumers more aware of it. It holds companies accountable for their digital manipulations. 

My hope is that young girls who see the label will come to realize what most of us adult women already have—that those perfect bodies we always see in ads aren’t so perfect in real life. And that our own bodies are perfect just the way they are.

What do you think of the Truth in Advertising Act? Do you think it will help improve young girls’ body images? 

You can sign the petition here!


19 responses to “Do It For the Girls: Sign the Truth in Advertising Petition”

  1. Although I “get it” and understand what they’re trying to do, I think the best thing mothers can do is talk to their kids about it and set a good example. No matter what girls see in a magazine, there’s no comparison to what their mom or grandma or aunt is doing right in front of them everyday.

  2. It’s very interesting. My daughter doesn’t know much about this yet (she’s four) but she will certainly know Photoshop since I am a professional photographer!
    However, I do want to really think about how I show her my work in an artful way. I do edit photos, but tastefully. So I’ll show her how I use RAW files and how I brighten underexposed photos and how I may change color casts or sharpen eyes, but I won’t change the colors of those eyes! On occasion, I will work smooth out wrinkles (lightly) and whiten teeth (lightly) but only if requested, and I probably won’t show her that.

    • I definitely think there’s a difference between improving your photos and changing them drastically in order to meet some societal ideal of beauty!

  3. I agree with Allie; I think the best thing we can do is talk to our kids and set a good example. However, I am seriously considering signing this petition because think it would be a good step forward for young girls. Thanks for sharing. So far, no girls for me but that may change one day!

  4. I realize that warnings or labels might seem a bit silly and like they are starting the obvious, but we do the same for other things: “coffee is hot” on to-go cups in the drive-thru, the Surgeon Generals statement on packs of cigarettes… Maybe a phrase acknowledging that a photo has been altered is a good idea. Like you said, we all know it happens, but we are adults. But plenty of young girls see those images too, so a reminder couldn’t hurt. Other advertising is regulated – like how cigarettes can’t be advertised on television – so why not this?

    But ultimately, like previous commenters have said, I think it comes down to how we model behavior for our daughters – and sons too. I will admit that I don’t love my body. It’s something I am working on, but I am not there yet. But I am careful about what I say out loud. I have 4 year old and 3 year old daughters and I don’t want them developing a negative body image or worrying about their weight at a young age. It is hard to teach our kids to be happy with themselves and that looks aren’t the most important thing when unrealistic images bombard them everywhere they look.

    • I’m with you 100%. Though it’s hard to say how much the labels would help, they certainly wouldn’t hurt. And it’s best if they’re combined with strong role modeling from parents.

      • You say that these policies couldn’t hurt and that they are most effective with proper role modeling. But the fact that we have to regulate advertising on tobacco and alcohol is because regulating advertising is easier than raising our children and being proper role models. Our children shouldn’t need to be told by advertising companies what is real and what isn’t. If a child acts out the violence they see in a cartoon, we shouldn’t blame the people who made the cartoon for the incident, we should hold the parents accountable who didn’t educate and supervise the child properly.

        But of course, as a society we’ve already decided that no one is responsible for their own actions. We have decided that life should be easy and we should get everything that we want. If we are unhappy it is because advertising has sold us unrealistic standards. I guess we might as well put labels on advertisements so that we can keep teaching our children that if they are not happy it isn’t their fault, it is society’s fault for not setting realistic goals.

        Personally my children don’t need to be sheltered from advertising, they know that tobacco and alcohol are bad for them. Despite my parent’s best effort I tried both tobacco and alcohol growing up, and when I was caught there were consequences. I was not able to blame advertising or peer pressure. I was responsible for my own actions, and my children will be as well.

        Of course discipline and role modeling is tough. It has to be balanced and consistent. So I’m not surprised when some parents want to avoid that by trying to control what their children see, but I would rather meet that challenge than shelter them from reality, which is that they are going to have to learn the difference between what is real and obtainable and what isn’t.

  5. A label noting that would be good…but I think it’s really important for parents to talk to their daughters. Kids mimic their parents…girls who are on “diets” often have moms who are on diets. I try to encourage healthy eating (and my daughter at this point is better than I am) and physical activity. Photoshopped models just aren’t real life.

  6. I am all for a label. Anything to slow down the insane amount of money these people get by feasting off of the insecurities of our women. I’m not delusional enough to think it will actually stop the photoshopping, but like with organics and GMOs, I have faith people will one day want to buy the real stuff, not the fake stuff. Here’s to dreaming big!

  7. Thank you! It is so difficult today to teach our children about the distorted beauty. They are inundated with unrealistic expectations; exponentially more than I ever way. Less than 5% of women can even attain the media’s expectation of beauty, and 80% of adult women are unsatisfied with their own bodies. This affects our children every day! Thank you for the reminder! Found you at SITS.

  8. This is one of the many things that I desperately want to believe will be helpful, but doubt the long term efficacy. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched someone completely ignore such labels. It’s sad and frustrating at the same time. Like most of the other commenters, I think the best thing we can do is model self-care without vanity and discuss how many of the photos we see are unrealistically edited.

  9. I would typically put this under the category of ‘one of the billion things that DON’T need to be legislated’, but I do like the idea of it possibly leading to more realistic images being put out there. That said, I’d probably still say this would be better addressed by us just assuming everything is photoshopped and teaching that to our kids so they look at things with a more realistic eye. Visiting from SITS – interesting post!

  10. I have no problem with light editing in Photoshop. I think we all do it sometimes. It goes too far when the edits actually change the size and shape of a person or make the person look completely different. Heading on over to check out the petition. Thanks, Katie!

  11. I just signed the petition. As other commenters said, it’s important to talk to our kids about body image and what we see in magazines and media. However, there are still many parents who do not talk to their kids, or who buy into the falseness themselves. A label would serve as a reminder to not believe everything you see.

  12. I believe the media is to blame for a HUGE percentage of bulimia, anorexia, and poor self esteem. I mean, I even feel “Less Than” after seeing these perfect bodies & faces. How the heck do young girls feel? They should be taught the imperfection is beautiful!

  13. Hi Katie – I’m definitely in favor of helping our girls (and ourselves!) understand that many of the images they see are altered. I’m not sure, though, that I’m in favor of a federal law requiring that altered photos be labelled. Thanks for sharing with the Let’s Get Real party.

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