The UK is a little ahead of us. Earlier this year, their Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) had banned cosmetic ads that featured Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington. This was because Member of Parliament Jo Swinson complained that the ads created unrealistic expectations of what women could like like using the advertised products, due to the excessive airbrushing.
Brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton have also been targeted by the ASA for similar digitally-altered images, claiming that the images contributed to women developing eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and depression, with symptoms now emerging at alarmingly younger ages.
Upon hearing what was going on in Britain, the consumer advocacy group Off Our Chests is aiming to bring the concept to the US. They are petitioning Congress for a proposed “Self Esteem Act” (you can sign the petition on change.org).
There is one major different between what Off Our Chests is urging the law to do, though: Instead of banning and taking down ads as the ASA has done, Off Our Chests simply wants a “Truth in Advertising” label mandated, which will state that an image has been altered if changes were made to significantly alter the shape, size, proportion or color.
“There’s no judgment, no finger-pointing, just truth and transparency. We’re not suggesting that advertisers shouldn’t keep on doing what they’ve been doing. Just tell us you did it. And if they’re not comfortable telling us, maybe they shouldn’t do it,” co-founder of Off Our Chests, Seth Matlins, tells YouBeauty (great website, by the way!).
Off Our Chests was founded by Seth and his wife Eva after welcoming a daughter into the world. They were faced with the challenge of raising a happy and healthy girl in the world of airbrush-saturated images, so Seth and Eva aimed to create a space where more positive messages could be shared and perhaps create social change.
Off Our Chests’ homepage is full of statistical information. For example, did you know that 70 percent of 12 year old girls don’t think they’re ‘pretty enough’?
I really admire what Seth and Eva have done and continue to do in attempts to not only shield their daughter from harmful messages, but also to help bend society to a healthier norm. However, the petition created by Off Our Chests will not point out all airbrushing. The group says that airbrushing common problems that affect everyone is understandable. “We don’t think that flyaway hairs or a zit need to trigger the Truth in Advertising labeling. And to be clear, we’re not against digital manipulation. We’re just horrified by the epidemic crisis of self-esteem among girls and women in the U.S., and saddened by the absolute numbers who seek an ideal of physical perfection that’s neither real nor attainable,” explains Seth.
I would honestly like to see a world in which there is no altering and no ideals. But I think we’re unfortunately far from that and I believe that this law being passed will be a huge step in the right direction.