As of Sunday, October 1, a new French law is in place. It states any models in commercial photography who have been made to appear thinner or thicker by image processing software has to include a statement declaring the image was retouched. Anyone who opts out of this law can face a fine of $44,000 or more, or 30% the cost of advertising.
It is important to note that this is not the first time France has taken a stand against unhealthy depictions of the human body. Two years ago, France responded to the criticism of thin models by requiring every model who wanted to work in the country to provide proof from a physician they are of a healthy body weight. Since then, other countries including Israel, Spain, and Italy have passed similar laws.
Getty Images is refusing to accept any creative content “depicting models whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner or larger,” representative Anne Flanagan told NPR. The decision to do so came after France’s latest piece of legislation and will begin labeling images with that were previously photoshopped.
A study published in the journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications found humans have trouble spotting retouched images. In fact, researchers found people identified altered photos 60% of the time.
Ultimately, it is the photoshopping you don’t spot that creates unhealthy expectations, and France’s legislation is an attempt to alert people of retouching. Maybe, warning people that changes have been made will help people have a more rational expectation for what the human body looks like.