Thursday, February 16, 2012

Proposed Law will Force Advertisers to Add a Disclaimer on the Ad

by Alia Beard Rau - Feb. 14, 2012 10:57 PM
The Republic |

Women have wrinkles, pores and curves. And there's a movement across the world to make sure advertisers can no longer pretend otherwise.
Now, that movement has come to Arizona.
House Bill 2793, proposed by Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, would require advertisers who alter or enhance a photo to put a disclaimer on that ad alerting customers that "Postproduction techniques were made to alter the appearance in this advertisement. When using this product, similar results may not be achieved."
The bill has little to no chance of success. But Hobbs said that's OK.
"We just wanted to bring it to the table and start a discussion," she said. "We need to bring attention to these body-image issues, especially with young girls. Girls need to know that they don't have to look perfect."
Arizona appears to be the first state in the nation to consider such a bill. There are ongoing efforts to get Congress to take up the matter. Several other countries also regulate or are considering regulating such advertising.

Hobbs said YWCA Maricopa County brought the idea to her.
Sam Richard, who serves on the YWCA Maricopa County board of directors, said the bill is modeled after laws in the United Kingdom.
"As an organization, we are all about empowering women and eliminating discrimination," Richard said. "We want to make sure that young women get a better start and better self-image."
He said girls need to understand that these photos aren't all real. Someone has airbrushed out the model's wrinkles and pores, or put a woman's head on top of a computer-generated perfect body.
"You need to disclose that so our young women don't grow up thinking a poreless face is possible," he said. "That's not the way that I think anyone wants to raise their daughters."
But Louie Moses, creative director of the Phoenix-based Moses Anshell advertising agency, said the advertising industry should be allowed to police itself.
"I don't like legislation that tells us what to do and what not to do in marketing," Moses said. "I know what's right."
He agreed that the evolution of photo-manipulation programs has made it nearly impossible for an average consumer to tell if a photo is real or fake. But he said legitimate advertising companies don't abuse that.
"It's one thing to make the sky bluer. It's another thing to make my body look perfect," he said. "And with the companies we represent, we see an advantage to choosing to tell the truth."
Moses also said people often blame advertising agencies for too many of the evils of society.
"People are always screaming about the images out there, but I think they are overlooking the easiest way to dispel those things," he said, suggesting parents strive to be their children's role models. "We don't want our media raising our kids."
The House Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the bill this morning, but may not actually vote on it. The bill has to have a vote to move forward.
Seth Matlins, co-founder of Los Angeles-based online women's magazine Off Our Chests, supports Hobbs' effort, calling it "extraordinary."
Off Our Chests is behind the push for similar federal legislation it calls the Media and Public Health Act. The National Eating Disorders Association and other groups have joined the push for a federal law, but no member of Congress has yet agreed to carry it.
"I'm thrilled (Hobbs) is doing this. I haven't heard of any other states trying it," Matlins said.
He said manipulated photo ads create unobtainable beauty ideals.
"People are left feeling worse about themselves because they don't look like something that actually nobody looks like," he said. "We're trying to help the makers of culture understand the relationship between what they do and how people feel."

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