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.
Product Management Director, Digital Imaging