As a corporate integrity manager and attorney, Bruno Fagali is well-versed in the ethics of media and advertising. He has built a career in Brazil as a legal expert in advertising law. It is no surprise, then, that he has watched with interest as the French enacted a new law, known as the Photoshop Alert.
The purpose of the new law, notes Bruno Fagali on his blog, is to force all advertisers in France to place the note “retouched photograph” on all pictures in which a model’s body has been digitally altered or retouched. The law falls under French public health code. In a country where an estimated 30,000-40,000 people, mostly adolescents, suffer from anorexia, the purpose of the law is to make clear that restricted diets do not lead to the levels of perfection found in advertising photographs. The photos are often altered beyond normal body limits and, beyond the litany of illnesses associated with Anorexia, the disease also has a high rate of associated deaths.
The new law, finds Bruno Fagali, is in keeping with a French legal system that already mandates all models to hold a medical certificate that verifies a general assessment of their health, as well as their body mass index. To prove the government’s commitment to alleviating this issue, Bruno Fagali notes that the penalties are correspondingly severe. A violation of the medical certificate could result in a 6 month prison term and a fine of up to 75,000 Euros.
However farfetched this may seem, Bruno Fagali reminds his readers that France is not alone on this issue. Israel, since 2012, has also instituted a series of regulations on model health and photoshopped ads, and Australia is headed towards a similar approach. As Fagali indicates on his blog though, Brazil was actually at the forefront of this cause, instituting measures for notification of photoshopped ads back in 2010. For all these laws, advertisers seemed to have already caught onto the need for a new approach, shifting towards more realistic depictions of the human body.