WEDDING SEASON SALE! 30% Off Training Systems!

News & Insight

Congresswoman Introduces Bill to Regulate Excessive Photoshop Use

By Leujay Cruz on April 18th 2014

Marketing tends to aggregate truth with fiction, and present it as fact. It’s not enough to call it a blatant lie, but sometimes we pause and question the information being presented to us. When that information becomes ruinous to our society’s well being, we’re bound, eventually, to do something about it.

The recently abundant outcry with excessive Photoshopping has lead lawmakers to stand up. With the boom of social platforms and the constant exposure to visual media, the image of perfection is continually forced upon us. Who decides what perfection is? Are we, the readers and viewers ourselves, to blame for admiring the false sense of perfection presented to us? Are the advertisers that create and shape the image of perfection at fault?

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif. speaks at a news conference, March 20, 2012. Tom Williams—CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif. speaks at a news conference, March 20, 2012.
Tom Williams—CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lethinen and Democratic Rep. Lois Capps are cooperating to emanate a bill which regulates excessive Photoshopping. The Bill is entitled H.R. 4341: Truth in Advertising Act of 2014, here’s an excerpt:

3. Report by Federal Trade Commission

(a) In general not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Federal Trade Commission shall submit to Congress a report that contains—

(1) a strategy to reduce the use, in advertising and other media for the promotion of commercial products, of images that have been altered to materially change the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals depicted; and

(2) recommendations for an appropriate, risk-based regulatory framework with respect to such use.

Recently a group of lobbyists trekked to Washington to rally support for the bill. The Eating Disorders Coalition met with lawmakers to discuss the details of the Truth in Advertising bill, pointing out that fictional representation through Photoshopping causes our youths to alter their conscience regarding personal body image.

Lawmakers and Lobbyist aren’t the only ones joining the outcry. Several public figures, news agencies, and even advertisers themselves, are starting to speak out and change their marketing approach. The advance of  ‘real woman’ campaigns has spread, and has had a positive response. Recently, Lady Gaga criticized her own over Photoshopped images and more and more stars are becoming more vocal.



This is reminiscent of the Mad-Men like era of the past where cigarette ads altered our view of the health concerns associated with tobacco.

Just as with cigarette ads in the past, fashion ads portray a twisted, ideal image for young women. And they’re vulnerable. As sales go up, body image and confidence drops. – Lois Capps (D-Calif.)

As a runway fashion photographer, I’d have to agree with that quote. The image the fashion industry has presented to our youths has become unattainable to an unhealthy degree. Backstage I often see models too skinny to be healthy and the food trays and complimentary samples are often untouched. As a photographer in general, I often feel guilty for shaping my subjects with the perfect lighting, flattering them, and making them appear skinnier. I’m not quite sure if I should feel that way, but I do. When we start changing, shaping altering to a point that it’s unrealistic, and it’s starting to affect our young children, have we gone too far…?

Would appreciate your comments below.

via jezebel

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Leujay is a full time wedding photographer with Lin & Jirsa Photography and a freelance runway fashion photographer. He currently lives in Palm Desert with his wife and two dogs. When he’s not enjoying quality family time he fancies himself as a work-in-progress world traveler.

Connect with Leujay on Facebook and follow him on Instagram.

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Ricardo

    Please check a thesis on postimages in advertising.

    | |
  2. geezerdave

    The politicians at every level of government lie to the public each and every day. I think that congress should clean up their own lies before picking on Photoshopped images……just saying.

    | |
  3. Alan Jennison

    As a photographer who grew up using ‘a darkroom’ I can’t see whats changed – manipulation of the final image has been going on since the birth of photography – Photoshop and the like just makes it quicker and less messy.
    Almost anything that can be done on the computer can also be done in the darkroom – this will never change

    | |
  4. Jo

    Perhaps all hotties should be required by law to wear burka’s . This way we won’t suffer from bad body image and photoshopping would become irrelevant. Just saying….

    Oh, and don’t get me started on how I feel about politician’s spin doctor skills that makes photoshop retouching skills look positively stoneage by comparison.

    | |
  5. MRB

    Respectfully disagree. Eating disorders aren’t about whatever the standard of beauty is. Eliminate the photos and these people will find another reason to act out an eating disorder, or be cutting, or something else. These people generally have body dysmorphia – they can be 6′ and 105 lbs and still think they’re fatter than unaltered pictures of a woman who is 5’5 135lbs – and they aren’t seeing “reality” anyhow. Changing what can be in the pictures will solve exactly zero problems.

    | |
  6. Olive Thomas

    This article is outrageous. I was hoping it wasn’t going to take the turn it eventually did when I saw the question, “Are we, the readers and viewers ourselves, to blame for admiring the false sense of perfection presented to us? Are the advertisers that create and shape the image of perfection at fault?” at the beginning, but knew by the structure of the sentence – the “right” answer always being the last thought, that it was going to go downhill fast. It can’t be the general public and consumer’s fault – must be the people doing their job! How dare they make things look better than they are!
    It wouldn’t surprise me if these were the same people, at the development of such programs, were pushing the designers to go more and more fantastical in their designs.

    Instead of focusing on the images portrayed who people ALL KNOW BY NOW are photoshopped, why isn’t there a bill against the amount of weight loss articles a magazine can have per issue? Or why most women’s magazines show more skin than men’s magazines? Or sex and self esteem advice? Why aren’t those monitored? A picture is free to interpretation, words are pretty cut and dry.

    Instead of putting a limitations on the freedom of the press, thereby making it more taboo and MORE ATTRACTIVE to a younger generation wanting to rebel against social norms – why not redirect the focus so young women and girls aren’t constantly bombarded by weight loss, gossip, and trends? How about putting more pictures of the world in publications? Architecture, vehicles, inventions?

    And also, Eating Disorder Coalition? Really? I can’t think of anything better to foster eating disorders than a coalition supporting them. Haven’t they realized by now the more focus put on eating disorders only feeds their power?
    What if instead we focused on writing articles and producing pictures showing love, honesty, loyalty, and genuine happiness? Or education on world matters or travel or ANYTHING else.

    Friends, girls and young women don’t have low self esteem because of photoshopped pictures in magazines. And if you take those pictures up – news flash – we have the internet. Those pictures will still be found and probably more coveted because a lot of those girls with eating disorders are looking for an ‘in’ somewhere, somewhere to belong. Pro-anorexia sites flourish on the internet, Ana’s Underground Grotto has been around for years and moved around after being shut down a couple times. You know what you’ll find on these sites? A support network filled with love and motivation. Motivation to starve yourself, but motivation none-the-less.

    So will banning these photo edits and websites end eating disorders? NO. Doing the hard work of supporting our young women and girls, encouraging them to embrace their existence, ask questions, and most importantly, hold them up to a level of responsibility for their own lives – that will give them back their power and no one will care about unrealistic photos.

    | |
  7. Philip Sharpe

    Don’t tread on me.

    | |
  8. Shaheen Razzaq

    The one thing I noticed as a photographer, in the models I worked with over the years.

    I see more and more with evidence of self harm, low self opinion and not one woman I ever shot is happy with their body and all hold something of a unrealestic idea.

    We seem to be in an age of extreme and everything feels so out of balance. A degree of post production has to happen, because most of us shoot in raw .

    Now because advertisers have gone to far with the idea of how and what type of body image to promote, the target is now photoshop and the level of manipulation?

    But hasn’t media always promoted an unrealistic ideal of the norm, whether its beauty, body image or the ideal family.

    Its just a distorted reflection of are our own ideals, but when hasn’t this been the case?

    I feel its time to grow up and stop finding villains, government want to treat us like children, they see a problem they want to pass a bill or law.

    But the problem is the over objectifying of women, we as a society are suffering from a very negative idea of the feminine.

    I think this is the sad results from that.

    | |
  9. Mario Castanon

    I think it’s time a new term is coined that will reffer to edited images, I think a photograph is what comes out of the camera, the result after editing isn’t, it’s a new image.

    | |
  10. Sal

    It’s censorship no matter how you look at it. This government is so backwards. Maybe “PARENTS” should teach kids to love themselves no matter their shape. Then ads can reflect reality and still sell product. It all starts at home folks. This issue is way bigger than photoshop. I could write a book on this. Let’s regulate photoshop but not GMOs. Insane.

    | |
  11. Susan

    This seems crazy to me. How can you possibly make laws that will regulate photoshop use? Where do you draw the line, and who would be the one to make those decisions? Photo manipulation has existed since photography began. Doesn’t the congresswoman have more important things to focus on? Ridiculous..

    | |
  12. Keith

    You have got to be fucking kidding me. So sick of the “leadership” in this country trying to mandate behavior and “solve” social issues. I teach my daughter the truth about advertising, and body image, and show her and my wife respect. I don’t or want need congress mucking about trying to protect her self image.

    The harm it will do is much greater than Photoshopping someone into a freak of nature. Giving people a false sense of security that advertising will suddenly become truthful, will cause people to drop their guard and be taken in by all the other underhanded shit that advertisers (and our congress) do.

    Better to educate yourself, your children, and others you care about so that they can think critically and decide for themselves what is important and how they feel about themselves. Fuck congress and their constant meddling in our lives.

    | |
  13. Carl

    More big government. Enough already. Will they pass a law that says that politicians must tell the truth (and enforce it)? I think not.

    | |
  14. Daryl

    Yes I agree with article.

    | |
  15. Gijs

    Advertisements are about selling an _image_ and not about showing the _truth_. Further more, people being negatively affected by an advertisement image have a problem between their ears. The advertisement isn’t the problem and banning Photoshop is not the solution. Do you think if you would ban all advertisements, people will magically start to feel better about themselves? I think not. If you ban use of Photoshop, these people will find another reason to be unhappy with themselves. The solution is in educating people and parents teaching their children self-worth and confidence instead of projecting impossible or unrealistic images and expectations onto them.

    | |
  16. Carlos J. Matos

    If Rep. Capps honestly believes that banning excessive image manipulation will somehow deter advertisers from pushing the limits of truth in advertising, then I’ve got some primo oceanfront property in Arizona to sell her.

    The consumption of visual media, that is to say the act of contemplation, is an entirely subjective act. There is no single objective, impartial method. Who, and by what methodology, is to determine how much is too much manipulation? Are we to regulate dodging and burning? How about cropping unwanted elements from a shot? What about film? Shall we prosecute Ralph Stedman for creating his Paranoids? Far as I can tell, that counts as altering the “physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals depicted.”

    How about instead we devote resources towards health, nutrition, and body image education in schools, with particular emphasis on at-risk populations like teenagers?

    | |
  17. James

    A tool is a tool, this is not something that should be regulated. Do you want the government to tell a mechanic he can’t use a particular tool to fix a dent on your car because it might look better or worse than how the factory made it? Yes, social media is flooded with images and yes, I believe models can have health issues, but these are issues that stem from a lot more than a photo they saw in a magazine or online. One of my closest friends is constantly told she’s anorexic and unhealthy looking, the girl eats more than I do and I weigh in over 300lbs. It’s her natural body and she’s perfectly healthy, the next thing you know someone will tell her she can’t be a model she looks too good for it.

    | |
    • Olive Thomas

      Awesome reply!! I was just thinking about a friend of mine who is also naturally very thin and what she would think of this article – because from her perspective, it’s possible She has the ‘wrong body type’. This society puts too much emphasis on putting too much emphasis on body image. :P

      | |
  18. David

    This may be what the models want but what about when I go the the sandwitch shop and expect something that looks like what I see in their ad?

    | |
  19. John Patterson

    If everything in the add is supposed to be true to life, no more animation or CGI as well?
    Ban advertising techniques because you do like possible impact of the technique, better ban closed course car adds, they encourage dangerous driving.

    The only thing that should be banned is alteration of the product advertised. I want a hamburger that looks like the one in the add.

    | |
  20. Dessa Bailey

    The unfortunate thing is… if this did pass, the only thing that would change is that only the “really pretty people” would get photographed and people would still have a false image of themselves. We would just have more government control! I think that if they want to make more people see things differently, then the before and afters can be shown, in places like the internet versions of their magazines, with a roll over or something… But it would be the choice of the magazine not the government!

    | |
  21. Will

    Why don’t we just ban advertising in total? Every commercial uses imagery to exaggerate the utility and joy of using a product. My Infiniti was never as shiny as in the ads even the day I drove it off the lot. And I have never had the near orgasmic experience driving it as the actors seem to be having on TV. I have drank a lot of Budweiser in my life, but have never had super hot bikini models approach me in a bar and fall in love with me because of my beverage choice. I really doubt that any of those actors on exercise commercials got to look the way they do in the after pictures from using that particular piece of equipment they are advertising. Advertising is all about fantasy and pretty much everyone seems to understand it. There are a few people that don’t though and of course the government always has to regulate to the lowest common denominator to make sure even the idiots are safe from whatever they regulate. It’s a load of crap really.

    | |
  22. Scott

    It seems unlikely to me that this would stand up in court. The Supreme Court already says freedom of speech covers all forms of expression. They also determined corporations have freedom of speech. How can they write a bill that allows for freedom of expression for artists (many of whom are their own corporations) while stopping bad advertising practices? I just seems like this law, if passed, will be either unenforceable or extremely draconian.

    | |
  23. tony

    congress keep your hands off our photoshop
    can’t you guys just regulate guns instead… guns kill people, while photoshop makes average people look hot

    freedom of expression… you can never take that away… photoshop 4ever!!!!!

    | |
  24. Lowell Peabody

    This is absolutely NOT what Congress should be doing. They have no business interfering with rights like freedom of speech which is the discretion of the photography and likely the client. God forbid these legislative idiots try to make themselves look good, passing bills on trivial or things not in politically correct standards (whatever those are!) when they should be working on the major issues already on their table. We don’t need more legislation which will likely only be expanded to cover blog posts, web sites, anything deemed inappropriate. Right, let ’em burn the books! It is the same issue.

    With that said, I applaud the efforts to control the use of Photoshop but this is a decision for the general public and the conscience of the advertisers.

    | |
  25. Jerry Ranch

    Another government intrusion. Soon art and photoshop retouchers will have to be registered with the state.
    I can’t see this doing any good, since one persons art is anothers person garbage.
    We’re 21 trillion in debt, and this is the best our elected representatives can do?

    | |
  26. Rachel

    Thank you for this! These overly Photoshopped images force unavoidable societal lies that lead to self hatred because, as perfectly imperfect humans, we are never able to measure up to our Worldly idols’ false standard of perfection. These Photoshopped images take away from the True beauty of the individual, why Photoshop away our dignity and uniqueness?

    | |
  27. Michael

    *Almost* speechless… ridiculous.

    | |
  28. Ed Mills

    Once again, the folly of narcissism has outdone itself: people are expressing moral indignation at the integrity of genuine shallow vanity having been compromised by fake shallow vanity. The problem isn’t that our culture, in its zeal to worship vacuous hotties, embellishes their portrayal. The problem is that our culture worships vacuous hotties. How about we just stop rewarding the genetically privileged and start investing our creative energy where it has meaning?

    | |
  29. SMB

    No one has mentioned the different lighting in the photos. That makes a huge difference. Clearly one was snapped without the photographers lights. They would light it probably when they took it.

    | |
  30. Jonny Boyd

    I question the intelligence of any “artist” that would agree to supporting such a domineering piece of legislation. As soon as we agree to remove the First Amendment from our Constitution then we can begin to create a society for empty headed nabobs- and this would be a great start.
    Let’s make sure we follow this up with a commission to decide what paintings are good for our mental well being so as to avoid using too much money on anti-anxiety meds.
    Sethmatlins, you are no friend to the artistic community.

    | |
  31. Frank Arvizu

    Well what about freedom of speech? We can’t just give that right away, not in the smallest amount. I may not agree with the amount of photoshop used on some products, but if they start tearing at my right to alter a piece of art , they are going too far.

    | |
  32. Kim

    Seriously…. regulating Photoshop…how about lets attend to more important things… we cant regulate Gun Control because its a “right” but we can jump into Photoshop…. SMH

    | |
  33. Beesnass

    Regulating Photoshop use is a nice “moral stance”, but impossible to enforce. ALL photography used for commercial purposes is altered in some way in Photoshop.

    Here’s a better idea: advertisers may try to put a “THIS PHOTO IS REAL” sticker on their ads, in order for people to become increasingly aware of this. In time, others companies would be pressured by consumers to do the same… unless they can’t prove the images are real.

    Also, the effects on Erotica are notorious. I, for one am an exceptionally virile man, (yes, even though I try my best to use proper punctuation EVEN ONLINE!!!) and even I am turned off by photoshopped imagery. Whenever I see a natural crease or blemish on a photographed girl, it’s like “halleluia”!

    | |
  34. Dan

    Maybe we just Photoshop congress out of the picture?

    | |
    • sethmatlins

      Dan, and then we can take a swing at arrogance, ignorance and the absence of empathy and community. I’m in.

      | |
  35. Dan

    We pay our elected officials to do this nonsense. How about balancing the budget. It appears they have not a clue as to what they should be in Washington for. Come on people wise up to these people.

    | |
    • Charles

      I’m sure that the Pres & First Lady and all of congress will be exempt from all this. Also main stream media.

      | |
  36. Rob

    I do think sometime Photoshop is used too much, however Photoshop is only used to replace painted covers and adverts, which were just if not more distorted. The difference of course is that people understood that they were painted. Today people (parents) aren’t teaching kids that this is Photoshop. It may be done more today, but it is easier to educate kids and young people on what is happening.

    The secondary part to this is the language of the Bill. It makes not mention of Photoshop, digital alteration or Computers at all. As such the bill makes Heavy make-up, lens’ distortion effects (like a wide angle), corsets and other such effects all illegal, heck using a photo of a person in front of a Carnival Mirror would be illegal to advertise a Carnival, or even a Eating Disorder program.

    In fact Lady Gaga’s Album and all associated marketing material would be made illegal by this bill.

    This bill goes way way too far.

    | |
    • sethmatlins

      Not sure how the bill goes “way too far” when it doesnt prescribe a specific solution, but compels the FTC to figure out what the solutions are.

      | |
  37. Jon

    Gosh. This is trying to cure the disease by treating the symptoms.

    It would make much more sense to put all this effort into promoting healthy diets and lifestyles. As long as soda and junk-food while watching TV are the norm, no wonder body shapes don’t meet expectations.

    Problem with body confidence? Try fruit & vegetables. And the gym. It has worked for 1000’s of years, and still does.

    | |
    • sethmatlins

      Jon…Yes(ish). We’re treating the disease by going after the root-causes not the symptoms. While deceptive ads and expectations arent the sole cause, they are significant contributor (and editorial is protected in ways commercial speech is not.)

      As I said above, the different ways of addressing this public health crsis are not mutually exclusive. It may also be worth giving a moment’s thought to others who may not be as strong of body and mind as you apparently are. And, seemingly, your simple prescription is not working that well now based on a number of different considerations.

      | |
  38. Rick

    No better reason to intact term limits than this. Paid way to much with too much time on their hands. We don’t need people without the sense God gave a two year old to tell us what is important in life. Let us live, create and judge for ourselves what we should legislate. Freedom has costs and risks associated with it and gov’t will never legislate us to a place like shangri la. They think this type of legislation is what the people want but in reality ts only benefit come special interest group or donor to their campaigns.

    | |
  39. Jonathan

    This is great news!

    I’m quite certain that people would live healthier lifestyles once they see more images of Godzilla without the Photoshop enhancements.

    | |
  40. Mauricio Rojas

    I recently slapped together a project for a media literacy class that focused exactly on this. I was appalled at the effects a photoshopped to unattainable perfection image can have on society. Seeing how much one image can change someone for worse, changed the way I produce my images. My solution is to advocate media literacy.

    | |
    • sethmatlins

      Mauricio…yes. But media literacy is not mutually exclusive (in fact, it’s a core part of how the British government deals with this). And even the media literate are manipulated by these images.

      | |
  41. Jim crabtree

    For gods sake isn’t there more important things Washington should be concerned with!

    | |
  42. bethany

    umm NO. Government has NO place in private practices. those models sigh up for jobs they WANT and have the free rights to view (or if the photographer does not want them to) NOT view the photographers previous work and make a sound job choice on those bases. When they sign for the job they are required to sign a ‘model release’ form stating that they publisher and artist has all rights to the photos. Models know this before taking a job. If they do not do the research ahead of time that is there own fault. On the there hand, as a photographer, I do think that many magazine photographers over process there work and portray women in wrong ways. That does NOT mean the governments has the right to do whatever they want and pass what ever laws they want. This is NOT a dictatorship! The less power they have the more power the people have this is just NOT a cause they need to get into! period!

    | |
  43. Henry Osho

    Seriously? There are no other more pressing matters for our congress to regulate?

    | |
    • sethmatlins

      Henry, no more than the health and happiness of generations…this is probably up there.

      | |
  44. David Liang

    This is such a typical hypocritical regulation by a republican politician. They run on the idea of smaller government, less regulation, less intervention etc. This is suggesting big government take a front seat to controlling a highly subjective industry, with highly subjective material, I’d love to see what over-reaching, over-generalizing regulations these non-creatives and their “consultants” and come up with.

    How about regulate health care costs, wallstreet, banks, manufacturing pollutants etc.? This is an issue worth talking about but certainly not before many more pressing and immediately important issues take place. Lower the noise already.

    | |
    • Golfzilla

      Uhh, Chris, she is a typical D for Democrat nanny. Never met an issue they didn’t want to regulate.

      | |
    • sethmatlins

      David, I won’t get into your beef with the Republicans…but not sure protecting consumers is a hypocritical move. Indeed, if you follow the money, data makes it quite clear that a happier workforce is a more productive one. A more productive one increases GDP. An increase in GDP…

      And, as for healthcare costs, the direct and indirect expenses incurred at the federal, state, municipal and individual levels associated with the treatments of anxiety, stress, depression, eating disorders etc etc…tied to these false and unrealistic ads and expectations, makes this bill and FTC action a money maker.

      | |
    • Dorothy

      That’s Representative (Rep.) Lois Capps, Democrat (D)-California (Calif). It’s typical hypocritical regulation by a DEMOCRAT politician, which makes it even more typical.

      | |
  45. Chcuk Biddinger

    No more government control!

    | |
  46. George Brown

    This sounds a little absurd in my opinion, maybe it’s because I’m starting a career in professional retouching, whereby something like this might dictate policy to each project I commit to. I think it’s absurd and just one more way for people to get sued.

    I understand the downsides, however that part of humanity will always exist. For every front cover on a girls magazine I bet you there is always a plethora of complaints moaning that it’s been photoshopped. It’s unavoidable! Who is to decide the line between excessive manipulation and a just amount? A judge?

    I’m sure if a judge saw the majority of retouches he would be shocked at the drastic change. What about creative advertising? Digital manipulation? These categories walk the grey line completely with a change like this.

    | |
    • sethmatlins

      The bill focuses only on advertising…not art, editorial, or individual expression.

      And YES, that a judge would be shocked is the entire point here. It is a deception doing harm.

      The bill speaks specifically and precisely to its only concerns being changes to shape, size, proportion, color, the enhancement/removal of individual features.

      | |
  47. Chris

    really??? my comment got moderated away? I’ll never be sorry for speaking the truth. There was no profanity and there was no reason to not post it, other than because it wasn’t what you wanted to hear.

    | |
    • Hanssie

      Actually, Chris, your comment were just waiting for approval, as was some others. The WP system will flag comments (not sure based on what criteria) and I have to manually come in and approve them. ~Hanssie

      | |
  48. Brad

    I look forward to the next bill dealing with “real lighting.” Models are lit in ways that are impossible in real life. Also Congress should outlaw makeup and hair styling as they can have a tremendous effect on someone’s look and nobody can have a team of makeup artists following them around all day. And what about models themselves? Those genetic freaks represent body types that 99.9% of us could never obtain. I say Congress should pass a law outlawing “attractive” people from having their picture taken.

    All those things make as much sense as outlawing PhotoShop.

    | |
    • sethmatlins

      Brad…you may want to actually read the bill before commenting ( No one is trying to outlaw photoshop or any digital technique. We’re trying to protect the health and happiness of 10s of millions.

      That said, yes, lighting, makeup, wardrobe, are all ways of manipulating the person in the ad. However, once you manipulate in post-production – you misrepresent (when it’s an ad) and when you misrepresent in an ad, you’re deceiving…and when that deception leads as conclusively to health issues as these ads do…you need to stop. The industry has ignored the data and its responsibilities, ethical and legal, so we’re asking government to step in. Wish we didnt need to – but we do.

      | |
    • Giveup

      For a second there I thought you were trying to compare the use of makeup, lighting and real model bodies, to using Photoshop to liquify waistlines, remove natural skin creases, and extend necks and legs.

      Apples and oranges, my friend.

      | |
  49. bob

    Perhaps this would do away with the ‘plastic’ models and photographer who rely on photoshop to cover the fact that they’re not very good.

    | |
  50. Jay

    Congress actually should be doing other things instead of wasting time on something like this. Having said that I believe that there is already a law on the books about truth in advertising so we wouldn’t need another one.

    | |
    • sethmatlins

      Jay…yes, the FTC already has the authority and federal mandate to stop deceptive and damaging advertising. But they havent here. Nor do they typically investigate an entire industry practice and method of persuasion. Typically, they investigate one advertiser and ad at a time. This bill, brings scale and urgency to those otherwise one-off efforts. As for where congress should be spending its time, that’s a matter of opinion of course. we believe that spending their time protecting tens of millions of consumers and children from the harm these ads are shown to cause, is a pretty good use. That’s just us though.

      | |
  51. Jiffer


    | |
  52. Dave Kai Piper

    This is quite interesting.. I am going to have a think for a while then make a full comment. I think I know which way my thoughts are though.

    | |
  53. Chris E.

    I’m actually in a quandary….. how will limiting the use of photoshop in advertisements help people’s body image? Ad agencies will still seek out the most beautiful people. Those people who were just barely up to snuff or required moderate photoshop to have an income are now out potentially out of a job. When young men and women see an ad with a strikingly beautiful person in it, there will be no more “oh that’s photoshopped” now it will be “wow they’re gorgeous, if they can look like that then i can too! All i have to do is (insert unhealthy habit here)”..

    We’re too infatuated, in this country, with the concept of punishing the innovator rather than educating the imitator. People get rich, Take their money and give it to the poor – don’t educate the poor and raise them to the level of the rich, just tear the rich down. it’s been happening for a while now. It’s intolerance masked in a cloak of righteousness. There will always be people with a poor self image regardless of the circumstances. For those that were overweight, it became not about trying to be healthy through good diet an exercise but more about loving who you are and being comfortable in your own skin…. forget if you’re setting yourself up for diabetes or heart problems. I was part of this, as were a few of my friends…. but after the first serious injury and after not being able to do what they loved to do, it clicked and a healthier lifestyle started. It’s the same at McDonalds, just because it’s a dollar menu and you have 5 bucks doesn’t mean you should eat 5 of them. It doesn’t mean you only need to eat one either. Bottom line, photoshop is a form of expression. It’s a tool to create something that meets a need. Just because agencies and photographers use photoshop and others see it and do unhealthy things… Let’s infringe upon our rights to create art for ad work and take away photoshop instead of working harder to educate people on proper eating and instill healthy mind images. It’s going to hurt more people than it helps by far and in more than one way.

    | |
    • Connor

      Right on man. I couldn’t agree with you more. It is not like photographers would start using average looking people, they would just find the people that are 10/10 in real life. I also agree that if people focused more on exercising regularly and eating healthy rather than blaming the media this whole situation wouldn’t even have occurred. The problem with the United States is that the average person is around 20 pounds heavier than the rest of the world so then we see images of people who are skinny we immediately blame the media and our over righteous mind sets prevent us from being able to say that maybe we are the cause of the problem not the other party.

      | |
    • sethmatlins

      Chris…thanks for a thoughtful comment. As one of the originators of what’s become this bill, let me try and answer some of your questions.

      No one is seeking to punish innovators. This isn’t about “photoshop” per se or specifically, but about the incontrovertible link between manipulated and deceptive ads and expectations, and an epidemic of health consequences.

      The bill does not seek to do-away with digital manipulation it wants to protect the health of 10s of millions of American consumers who dont see past these images and understand they’re about as real as something in a cartoon.

      You also may be right…there will certainly be ways around this. But if those ways include truths, we think that’s an improvement over lies that hurt and harm. The Truth In Advertising Act isn’t a silver bullet…it’s a big step, however, to protect children etc from the damage being done, and to hold advertisers accountable for the side effects of what they sell not just how they sell. Not sure what’s wrong with that. Thanks again for raising your questions and concerns so productively. seth

      | |
  54. Rick

    I think if an image is being used to sell goods/services, then I’m all for cracking down on the amount of adjustments. Let me now define adjustments. If it’s something you can physically do (e.g. adjusting lighting to bring out cheekbones), I don’t see any issue with that. Nor do I see issue with using post-processing to add to existing highlights or shadows. But of course within reason. Put another way, if the person can appear that way in real life as seen in the final image, then I don’t see an issue.

    Things like liquify to alter people and/or clothing should be a no-no. After all, if the actual product (say clothing) tends to bunch up around a particular seam, that needs to be shown. Lengthening/shortening necks, repositioning eyes seem crazy to me. My personal take on retouching: if it’s something temporary, address it. Otherwise, leave it!

    In looking at some of my retouched work, I had an image where the model was wearning a black cotton top. It wasn’t full of lint, but I had removed all traces of lint of it. Image is for portfolio usage and not used to sell any products. But say it was to sell the article of clothing. Because one could have used a lint brush in real life, is there any harm in removing in post? Or, is it bad to show a completely lint-free item since that’s pretty unrealistic?

    As the other poster mentioned, there will indeed be gray areas. But I think most would agree that certain types of alterations would clearly be bad when used to advertise.

    Finally, on retouching of skin specifically. Whenever I see these images, they now all look the same to me and are rather boring. They look computer-generated. Pores are all the same size. Transitions from light to shadow are too perfect. They are way too symmetrical.

    | |
  55. propagandi

    Congresswoman is a bit upset her photographer charged her too much for her portrait.

    | |
    • Bridget E

      Or… Congresswoman is upset her photographer didn’t Photoshop her enough! LOL!

      | |
  56. AJ

    Yes, I wish many advertisements were more realistic. Yes, I wish marketers would focus on being honest rather than trying to convince, overtly or subliminally, consumers that they’ll find happiness if they buy just one more thing. Yes, I wish individuals didn’t struggle with body images issues that are brought about, or at least supported by, unrealistic images depicted in advertising. The problem I see in trying to regulate such imagery is that a law can’t handle the vast gray area that exists of art that is very purposefully and obviously altered and not meant to portray something that actually exists. It may be easy to single-out body imagery, but what about anything else? If I buy a car after seeing a beautifully curvy piece of metal and glass on a billboard, I may be disappointed when I find that the car parked in my driveway never looks quite as majestic. A tourism board may edit a waterfall photograph in such a way that no visitor can ever see such a thing when they visit. Are these things misleading? Yes. Are they unethical? If you know that viewers are expecting the exact thing they see in the photo–then yes. Are they criminal? That seems like a stretch. As virtually anyone gains the ability to edit photographs on their phone, adding filters, fake bokeh, and the like, I believe it’s becoming more and more understood and accepted that an image is not necessarily a document of reality, but a personal work of art that may or may not be close to what others see with their naked eyes.

    | |
    • dbltapp

      Excellent commentary – I second it.

      | |
    • Connor

      I completely agree with you AJ. I don’t doubt that the media has many negative effects on people but by banning the over use of photoshop that is implying that all photographers goal is to create something true to life as possible. Photography is art and it is ridiculous to claim that the goal of all artists past and present were to create the most true to life artworks as possible. For example look at Michelangelo’s David. A sculpture of a muscular and handsome man. I would bet it is safe to say that not every Italian Renaissance male looked like this. And I bet people did not complain when it was made that it was giving people a sense of poor body image. I just wish this whole argument of over photoshoping would come to an end and people would just be comfortable with who they are and realize that by being self confident with who you many people will find you attractive. Also if we got rid of the use of photoshop photographers wouldn’t start using average looking people. They would just go out and find people that are 10/10 in real life without photoshop. Then people wouldn’t be able to say “They’re all photoshopped, their is no way they look like that in real life.”

      | |
    • Keith Watts

      As a photographer, I see my true artistic abilities in being able to capture the best shot straight from the camera. Maybe a little pp tweeting to sort out HDR issues where there is too much contrast between shadows and highlights but that shouldn’t alter what the camera sees.

      Anyone who spends to much time in PhotoShop is no longer a photographer, but a graphic designer…

      | |
    • Gerry

      Fortunately for us we have a precedent guide as to what is acceptable under the “truth in advertising” regulations in existence. All one would have to do is start enforcing laws that have been ignored for 40+ years. As all of us know they have not done so in the last 40+ years would indicate they will not be willing/likely to do so now. More hot air from politicians who1have never held anyone accountable for the “less than truth” format of campaigning for office.

      | |