American Medical Association Pushes End to Photoshopped Body Images in Ads

Urges Ad Industry to Develop Guidelines

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The American Medical Association voted at its annual meeting yesterday to support ad-industry policies discouraging altered, unrealistic body images in advertising.

"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," the association said. "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's policy encourages ad associations to work with public and private health groups to develop guidelines deterring ads Photoshopped beyond reality, especially in publications oriented toward teenagers.

"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 Barbara McAneny, a member of the AMA board, in a statement. "We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software."

Two years ago Ralph Lauren acknowledged that one of its ads included an image manipulated to show a woman whose head appeared wider than her pelvis, saying it would take precautions to avoid a repeat.

Jezebel, Gawker Media's site focusing on women's issues, flagged the new AMA policy today, calling the notion "great" but saying magazines should apply that policy to their editorial departments too, not just ads.

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