Design

Should There Be A Law Against Digitally Altered Images?

We were just trying to have a good time, Photoshop, but you went too far!

Weren't we just talking about how to avoid designing controversial print ads? Ah, if only more of you would read the hard-hitting editorials I put up here (Ralph Lauren, I'm looking at you).

The designer's label is increasingly under fire due to a recent print ad that had been photoshopped to show a model so freakishly thin that her head appeared larger than her body. There was an enormous outcry, of course, as people who viewed the ad were reported to have fainted, become ill, gone completely mad, and in at least one instance, slipped into a coma.

And the uproar is only getting worse, as the Ralph Lauren label fired the model in question. Jilted beauty Filippa Hamilton chose today – Lauren's 70th birthday – to reveal that she lost her job for being “too fat.”

You have to wonder if the graphic designer who committed the Photoshop offence was impelled to excess by a little yellow sticky note on the original image: MODEL TOO FAT! WE FIRED HER AND WE'LL FIRE YOU, TOO!

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that in Britain and France in legislation is being passed to curb such image-altering tactics in print advertising, or to at least ensure that they come with some sort of disclaimer, a la These thighs are not real, do not attempt to imitate or duplicate.

According to European lawmakers, altered photos depicting unrealistically thin (or attractive) people are bad for the self-esteem of girls and young women. For shame, design community, for shame! And to think you started out with a degree in Fine Arts. Tsk, tsk.

But seriously, folks, what do you think? Does there need to be a law protecting consumers from manipulated images? It wasn't long ago that the portrayal of smoking was banned from many forms of media. Does digitally altered beauty fall into the same category?


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