Truth in Advertising Act: A Bill That Wants to Regulate Photoshop in Advertisements

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Fixing the colossally broken anatomy in Falcon’s Winter Soldier poster. by AnnaHollinrake

H.R. 4341, also known as the Truth in Advertising Act, is a bill being introduced to Congress. Sponsored by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Lois Capps (D-CA), the bill intends to do exactly as its title would suggest: monitor how distorted advertisements are allowed to get. More specifically, it’d be going after the excessive use of Photoshop that we see so present these days.

Being a food artist is a thing in the industry. You’re paid to make sure every part of that Big Mac looks perfect for the lens and appetizing for the stomach. Sometimes a food artist inserts in toothpicks or other forms of support into the sandwich itself to make sure we can see ever condiment making it up in the final advertisement. If you’ve eaten a Big Mac, you know that picture on the menu isn’t what it looks like.

From food to fashion, alterations in advertisements are everywhere. And as much as we don’t notice it, it does its work on us anyway. We’re used to the overdone editing now, and many people even wish to look as good as the artificially altered models they see as they walk past the Armani Exchange in their city’s Galleria.

Even this abomination of a job wasn’t noticed until a user on Reddit pointed it out. When you take a close look at it, you can’t let go of how unhuman the anatomy looks in the official poster to the left. Isn’t it a problem that this actually happened? What was wrong with Anthony Mackie’s original pose?

With advertising campaigns like Aerie’s that are focusing more on real women without edits done to their bodies, modeling for advertisements that’ll be shown in malls and billboards, it’s clear that truth in advertisement is something that’s become a big concern in our culture today. That’s probably a big reason this bill is being introduced now. But there’s a problem: what would be the “truth” in this case?

Where would the line be drawn in what advertisements can do and can’t? How much would photoshopping be limited? This isn’t like cigarette commercials back thirty years ago, and their eventual ban. Cigarette commercials glorified a lifestyle that lead to the deaths of many of the Marlboro Men themselves. But we’re talking about an age where photoshopping is literally everywhere, in every form of product. And that means that all of it would come under the attention of this Act. How is the government expected to be trusted with handling that? Questions like these are what form my indifference towards this bill. While I do see its cause as noble, that goal hasn’t been solved because of how hard it is to work towards it already. What do you guys think about it? Leave a comment and I’ll be discussing it with you guys as soon as I see them.

You can read the Truth in Advertising Act on Congress’s official website. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction of the bill:

Congress finds the following:

(1) Advertisers regularly alter images used in print and
electronic media to materially change the physical
characteristics of models’ faces and bodies, often altering the
models’ size, proportions, shape, and skin color, removing
signs of ageing, and making other similar changes to models’
appearance.

(2) An increasing amount of academic evidence links
exposure to such altered images with emotional, mental, and
physical health issues, including eating disorders, especially
among children and teenagers. There is particular concern about
the marketing of such images to children and teenagers through
distribution in teen-oriented publications, advertising
displayed in public places outside the home, and online media.

(3) Such altered images can create distorted and
unrealistic expectations and understandings of appropriate and
healthy weight and body image.

(4) The dissemination of unrealistic body standards has
been linked to eating disorders among men and women of varying
age groups, but it has a particularly destructive health effect
on children and teenagers.
(5) Academic evidence has demonstrated a connection between
the use of very thin models in advertising and consumer
attitudes toward a brand based on such advertising, as well as
a material influence of the use of such models on consumer
purchase intent, conduct, and reliance.

(6) In 2011, the American Medical Association adopted a
policy encouraging advertising associations to work with public
and private sector organizations concerned with child and
adolescent health to develop guidelines for advertisements,
especially those appearing in teen-oriented publications, that
would discourage the altering of photographs in a manner that
could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body
image.

[Via SLR Lounge]

  • https://www.facebook.com/mrsamfield Sam Field

    I’m torn on this… It’s well intentioned but from the pov of someone employed to promote products it’ll be a pain I’m sure

  • John Doe

    WTF!? Is the Congress bored? Don’t they have more important things to do?

  • https://www.facebook.com/Tuaussi Bob Simmons

    Congress wanting truth in advertising, yet we’re bombarded by political ads that distort and lie. Funny, but sad.

  • https://www.facebook.com/mattnicki.lautemann Matt Nicki Lautemann

    Totally ridiculous.

  • Garrett

    Really?! Unproportional body? That’s what they want to nit-pick? The fact he flys around with artificial wings doesn’t bother them, but how they photoshopped him to look bigger does… It’s a freaking comic book movie, people! It’s for our entertainment. It’s Hollywood, not real life. Sit back and enjoy the spectacle in front of you. I personally want to see people who are larger than life, or more beautiful than anyone I know. How boring would it be if it were just normal people that you would encounter everyday? Next they’ll want to attack writers for even thinking up these characters or scenarios.

    • http://500px.com/NishantC Nishant C

      Umm. that pic in question is not about making him big but about wrong anatomy. Photoshop error if you will. They didn’t correct it to make him look more real but more correct. Chill!

  • Steven Lear

    Congress playing the blame-game again. The epidemic of obesity in the country’s not the problem, no not at all; it’s the over-photoshopped advertising! One caveat of humor, though: as I write this, there’s an advert for Portrait Professional right under the article, modifying a woman’s face. Ironic, priceless and hilarious all at the same time :)

  • http://tahoeshooter.com Jon Peckham

    Complete useless and contradictory legislation nonsense.

  • http://wilcfry.com/ Wil Fry

    I’d be more interested in an actual “truth in advertising” bill that made some effort to slow the flood of untruths in advertising (including political ads), and I couldn’t care less about whether someone uses photo-editing to alter an image in the ad — unless it’s an image of the product itself.

    For example, if a movie trailer has a scene that’s not actually in the movie… something that happens quite often… then it’s false advertising. If a car ad says the car is “roomy” then I damn well better not feel cramped in it.

  • John Crippen

    I’m pretty sure Photoshoping a photo to make it appear that a product works (like smoothing the skin when advertising skin cream) is already illegal, so this is pointless. Next we’ll ban skinny pretty models because they make people feel bad.

  • jamesbjenkins

    Dear Congress, stay the heck out of the free market. Let the consumer decide for themselves.

  • https://www.facebook.com/buck.cash.3 Buck Cash

    How about a Truth In Politics Act?

    Basically, all politicians are required to wear shock collars at all times. Every time one of them tells a lie, as confirmed by an independent watch organization, they get tasered in the neck.

    Where do I vote for that?

  • Nesta Garrick

    I am not a fan of Politricks but she makes a good point. The use of photoshopping food, clothes & models to make them look flawless and perfect from the original photo to please or sell society is what is wrong in advertising. it promotes false marketing. In the major cities in America, a lot of women are getting plastic surgeries more and more everyday. It’s like they are getting the same cuts and work a designer would do a photo of a model in photoshop. I hate buying stuff that don’t match the picture. I never gotten a food from McDonald’s that looks like how they market it. Is it ok?.

    I don’t know how you can regulate it but I don’t think it’s a bad idea to talk about it and find a solution.

    Regarding the Falcon poster…I just think the designer rushed the work or got pressured from the big people paying the bill.

  • Fred

    The industry will find creative solutions, and that’s good.
    Don’t fix it in post, fix it on set!

  • Jacob Benjamin Taylor

    Wait so we are going regulate our ads but not our food? Huh.

  • Doug Birling

    How about a truth in government bill instead?

  • Kevin Blackburn

    All the issues we really have in America and this is what our elected officials are worried about ” A little Photoshop work” We are doomed I fear!!

  • Roy Fritz

    I think the government should first fix the country first. Then once everything is back on track, then go after stupid issues like this one.
    Personally, I think the decision should be made by the advertiser that is paying for the project. If it’s cool for all parties involved with the end product, then so be it.
    Secondly, if you restrict these images from being photoshopped, you can drive these models into eating disorders and such to try and lose weight in order to get the job.
    As far as the people who drafted this bill…. How can you judge or preside over what is a creative choice when you have never created anything? Heck, you have a hard enough time keeping this country running smoothly.
    Like I said earlier, fix the country first, then come see me and we will talk about it.

  • Wayne Holloway

    Does that mean that traditional artists like painters could be limited to painting “photoreal” subjects,writers only writing about factual events…………..c’mon

  • Ricardo

    Postimages in advertising Thesis: http://hdl.handle.net/10400.2/2667