These measures are being taken because, as the bill points out in its introduction, “The dissemination of unrealistic body standards has been linked to eating disorders … [and] has a particularly destructive health effect on children and teenagers.” Noble intentions, and we still don’t know how they will set about regulating Photoshop use in ads, but all of this begs a couple of questions. First, does Congress realize how prevalent Photoshopping really is in advertisements? And second, is there anybody on Capitol Hill that is truly qualified to set rules that regulate such use?
Katy Waldman is more critical:
In a world of limited time and resources, Photoshop seems like a strange drum for the Eating Disorders Coalition to beat. Diseases like anorexia and bulimia are largely understood now to be biological in origin, although cultural conditioning can definitely trip certain wires. There’s a lot of research linking media exposure to dieting and body dissatisfaction, but only a handful of studies directly implicate ads in eating disorders (and even those caution that the offending images likely triggered pre-existing drives). Given that the specific genetic causes of eating disorders remain so mysterious, and the treatment so hit-or-miss, lobbying money might be better spent on research than on making sure the thin, beautiful women who appear in magazines are naturally thin and beautiful.