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Eating Disorders and the Media: Anti-Airbrush Movement

Eating Disorders and the MediaEvery time you flip through a magazine, you’re bound to see slim, cellulite-free legs, wrinkle-free faces and expressions without crow’s feet or smile lines. You can’t avoid it, but you can realize that in reality things aren’t always as they appear.

After all, nobody is perfect – unless they’re in a magazine, that is. Health agencies like the American Medical Association and doctors across the country are calling out all of the airbrushing and suggesting that a disclaimer accompany every advertisement that’s been Photoshopped.

Eating Disorders and the Media: Advertisements

Earlier this year, Lancome cosmetic advertisements featuring supermodel Christy Turlington and actress Julia Roberts were banned in the United Kingdom because the images promised unrealistic results. While they have professional makeup artists, flattering lighting and world-renowned photographers to make them look great, none of the ads stated that there was extensive retouching done after the fact. They were, after all, trying to sell aspiration and fantasy, and the best way to look flawless is with photo retouching.

The American Medical Association recently called for standards when it comes to photo retouching. “We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software,” they said. While it may still be far off, it could be a major step toward truth in advertising.

In addition to photography, the same organizations are also calling for disclaimers in television commercials if there has been significant retouching done to the models. Eve Matlin, who recently launched the Self Esteem Act said “Real, serious, and enduring problems occur when we don’t recognize that the images and ideals of the human form being presented in the media are setting unrealistic expectations and standards for our country’s female population.”

Societal pressures, often from advertising and media, are often a major reason people feel that they need to control what they eat, and may be a factor leading to the development of eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia. Many people feel inadequate when they see touched-up advertisements, so having disclaimers accompanying these images can be a major step in giving people a more realistic view of themselves and the people around them.

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