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Photoshop and Our Impressionable Youth

As a mother of two young children, I often have thoughts of how life will affect them. What will bring them joy and what will hurt them. Will a word make them lose their confidence? Will an image cause them to question their self-esteem?

The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted some new policies at its recent annual meeting. One of these was around “Body Image and Advertising to Youth.” Here’s what the AMA said:

BODY IMAGE AND ADVERTISING TO YOUTH: Advertisers commonly alter photographs to enhance the appearance of models’ bodies, and such alterations can contribute to unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image – especially among impressionable children and adolescents. A large body of literature links exposure to media-propagated images of unrealistic body image to eating disorders and other child and adolescent health problems.

The AMA adopted new policy to encourage 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.

“The appearance of advertisements with extremely altered models can create unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image. In one image, a model’s waist was slimmed so severely, her head appeared to be wider than her waist,” said Dr. McAneny. “We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software.”

We have a lot of parents on the Photoshop team. And while we respect each person’s creative expression, realizing that art is in the eye of the beholder, there is also the responsibility to consider context, especially in the case of youth. This is not about censorship – it’s about supporting creative expression and encouraging responsible use.

We at Adobe applaud the AMA for raising this issue so parents can be prepared to have open and honest dialogue with their children about body image and advertisers act responsibly. As a parent and proud member of the Photoshop team, I look forward to contributing to this important dialogue.

Best,
Maria Yap
Product Management Director, Digital Imaging

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I am really glad to hear this after raising 3 daughters and thank goodness they learned good eating habits and never had any problems

Extremely altered photographs can, and do create a distorted impression of the “perfect” body. I agree with Maria that advertisers and the print media need to keep this in mind, especially when directing this advertising to children. I often hear adults refer to extremely altered photos as totally unrealistic, and I think we need to make sure that our kids understand this.

I have a 2 year old daughter and I worry about this all of the time. I try to refrain from saying things that stress outward beauty over inner beauty and wonder how she will perceive herself when she is eventually bombarded by media images of these unrealistic body types. I do hope that this type of altering will be prohibited from young adult and pre-teen advertising markets, much the same way cigarette companies and alcohol companies are prohibited from marketing toward children. Let them be kids.

This is a fantastic step in the right direction. Aside from complete media abstinence, we as a nation have a responsibility to expose our children to as little self-damaging media as possible. This regulation would make that task a little easier.

Let’s see if we can continue to work together to bring a more positive body image to the future leaders of this world — all of the young girls and boys of today.

just read an article about photoshop and body image of youth by The American Medical Association regarding new polices .. like really guess what if your a parent and you don’t teach your children that every mag cover and everything you see on t.v. is fake . then guess what your a bad parent .. its not photoshops fault or the industrys fault either . They are selling a perfect version of something that isn’t real . if you don’t make sure your kids understand this then its your fault … speaking as first a parent and second a photographer and photoshop user …

    agree with thornhill 100%- as an artist I am going to make my art pleasing to my own standards of beauty and perfection. I am not a journalist documenting reality- You can’t blame Barbie, or ads,or TV shows- they show fantasy images- are you going to stop your kids from watching cartoons because the heads are bigger than the bodies? Kids observe real people daily not just magazines.
    In every society from ancient times to now beauty has been admired and emulated. (footbinding, corset wasp waists, etc) Teenagers today are more likely to know, and understand pics are altered. Most of them know how to use picture altering programs- they are immersed in 3D fantasy worlds with super human men and women.
    If you are so concerned with influences on body image you can begin with weight obsessed moms who are constantly on diets, exercising queens who monitor every morsel the kids eat. Maybe ban Mrs Obama from speaking about how to eat so you can look good.

      The BIG difference is that cartoons are not presented as standards to follow, and people in magazines is supposed to be just that: models (hence the word).
      Besides, calling any piece of advertising “art” is a long stretch. Art is not as perverted, with the sole purpose of selling, as advertisement.

As a photographer and a technology teacher, I spend a great deal of time on this subject with my middle school students. Some are shocked at what can be changed so easily. We discuss what is appropriate and what crosses the line from them. Education is the key. Eat healthy, be happy and educate!

Intresting comments, especially from artists. However we should differentiate between ART and COMMERCE. I do not approve of using enhanced pictures to sell, whereas I have no problem with reducing my daughter to a very small size,transplanting butterfly wings and creating a Rose-Bush Faery

Please take notice of this – it’s incredibly important.
Adolescent girls really REALLY want to be just like their idols, and so many of the images they see promote the idea that thin is good, and super-skinny is even better. Too many of them are starving themselves and getting into habits of purging, throwing up etc.
The pursuit of perfection (however this is conceived) is likely unavoidable, but maybe we can try to promote some degree of self acceptance by showing the beautiful variety that is out there in the human species, rather than manipulating all our images to show the same ideal – that is, always thin?

    I actually don’t reduce the size of anyone that models for me but the idea of promoting some degree of self acceptance should start at home . Parents are the first and should be the primary people that make sure that your kids no the difference .. that this stuff isn’t real . no matter how cool they are , this is not the real them . I have sat people down in front of photoshop with me and shown them what i can do to them . The bottom line of this for me is that you can’t control the world outside your door and no one should even try but the place you can make a difference is the world inside your house . As a parent wither you know it or not from day one you are your kids primary influence on the way they look at the world . yes they are gonna rebel from time to time like every child from the beginning of time did and find there own self . If you build a good foundation for your child they should have the tools to know what is real , what is not . 50 years ago parents didn’t really have to have this conversation with their children that those abs on so and so are not real or that woman’s waist line has be reduced and her face retouched but guess what its part of being a parent now . don’t pass the buck and blame photoshop or the media . Knowing the difference starts at home .

    just sayin

Hi guys, any news about the result of this contest you lanched :
http://blogs.adobe.com/photoshopdotcom/2011/02/help-us-find-mentions-of-photoshop-and-win-a-wacom-tablet.html

Thanks :)

Unfortunately our society is founded on preying on one another. Fat chance entities beholden to shareholders give a frak about this topic. It’s up to parents to educate their children.

Here’s a great web page about Photoshop http://www.photoshop-newsletter.com

Believe NOTHING see on the magazine racks. I do not blame Photoshop in the same way I would never blame the gun.
I love the campaign that Dove ProAge did a while back. In case you missed it … http://youtu.be/pcFlxSlOKNI

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