Point, Shoot, Retouch and Label?

December 4, 2009

Interesting article in the NYT a couple days ago…Below are a few excerpts.  Read entire article here.

VALÉRIE BOYER is 47, a member of the French parliament and a divorced mother of three. She is tall, fashionable and, dare we say it, slim.

But she has also created a small furor here and abroad with her latest proposal: a draft law that would require all digitally altered photographs of people used in advertising be labeled as retouched.

Some think such a law would destroy photographic art; some think it might help reduce anorexia; some say the idea is aimed at the wrong target, given that nearly every advertising photograph is retouched. Others believe such a label might sensitize people to the fakery involved in most of the advertising images with which they’re bludgeoned.

For Ms. Boyer, who has a background in health administration, the fight is really about her two teenage daughters, 16 and 17, and the pressures on young women to match the fashionable ideal of a thin body and perfect skin.

“I got interested in the subject of the body because it’s really a mother’s reflection,” she said. “It’s the closeness I have to adolescents that drove me to become interested in these subjects.”

It is a topic that consumes her. “If someone wants to make life a success, wants to feel good in their skin, wants to be part of society, one has to be thin or skinny, and then it’s not enough — one will have his body transformed with software that alters the image, so we enter a standardized and brainwashed world, and those who aren’t part of it are excluded from society.”

Her proposed law has yet to be voted on in the National Assembly, where Ms. Boyer sits as a member of the center-right from heavily Socialist Marseille. The legislation is aimed at advertising, though its preamble suggests expanding the measure to other kinds of photographs. Her initiative has already brought her attention, as part of a larger, passionate and confused debate about models, beauty and anorexia.

It’s a debate that goes well beyond France. In the United States, Self magazine, which champions accepting one’s “true self,” recently published a thinned-down photo of the singer Kelly Clarkson, with a headline pushing “total body confidence.” Lucy Danziger, Self’s editor, defended the photo as “the truest we have ever put out there,” but many disagreed. There was also a fuss about a bizarrely retouched photo of the model Filippa Hamilton, whose waist was reduced to the width of her head, for a Ralph Lauren ad in Japan. Brigitte, a popular German woman’s magazine, decided last month that as of 2010 it would only use photos of “ordinary” women. The editor, Andreas Lebert, said he was “fed up” with retouching photos of what he considered underweight models.

Reminds me of this great Dove compaign.

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