After Norway, Another Country Demands “Just Say It When You Fix the Picture”

As users of social platforms such as Instagram and TikTok grow and become more commercialized, their influence on daily life has exceeded imagination.

One of the effects is "social comparison" . Why is this person on the screen so young and beautiful, and I can't do it no matter how hard I try?

▲ Fictional character lil Miquela.

Although the gap is not entirely caused by retouching, some people want to use the law to fight against the illusion, to illuminate the beautiful and fragile bubble.

On January 12, British MP Dr. Evans proposed a new bill "Digitally Altered Body Image Bill", which requires the marking of commercial images of "digitally altered bodies". It can be seen that there are two main points in this bill.

▲ Picture from: Twitter@drlukeevans

First, it normalizes those images that focus on the human body or body parts.

A number of studies in recent years have pointed to the conclusion that concerns about appearance "are younger, last longer and affect more people than ever before".

In 2021, the Women and Equality Commission 's body image survey found that more than a third of adults are anxious or depressed about their body image, and 44% would like to see more diversity in mainstream media.

In a 2019 Mental Health Foundation survey of more than 4,500 adults and 1,100 teens online, 22% of adults and 40% of teens said images on social media made them worry about their body image.

▲ Picture from: mentalhealth

Another poll found that 34% of girls don't post pictures of themselves unless they use an app or filter to change their appearance.

Anxiety about body image may point to a more serious problem. The NHS UK noted that hospital admissions for anorexia, bulimia nervosa and eating disorders among young people aged 17 and under have risen by 41%.

Second, the bill targets retouching associated with commercials, brand collaborations, paid tweets, and the brands and influencers behind them. Dr. Evans stated in the bill:

If a powerful influencer is getting paid to post a retouched photo on social media, or an advertiser makes money from retouching a photo, they should be honest and forthright with the content.

The solution given by the bill is that if retouched photos are used for commercial purposes, they should all carry a disclaimer.

If the bill is finally passed, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will further develop standards for disclaimers, including appearance, placement, what is "retouched" and what is "commercial purpose".

▲ Retouching software. Image from: Lightricks

The UK's bill has just come to the fore, while the dust has already settled on the Norwegian side.

In June 2021, the amendments to the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Family Affairs were passed by a vote of 72 to 15.

The bill mandates that all advertisers, actors and influencers who post commercial content on social media must carry a uniform label designed by the government and describe where the image is "touched", body, muscle, skin and even filters changes must be marked.

▲ Retouching software. Image from: TapSmart

Violators of the law face fines and, in extreme cases, jail time.

The Norwegian daily Verdens Gang reports that the bill has broad support from the Norwegian community and that "teenagers should not be exposed to an illusion of beauty that is impossible to achieve", the hashtag is small but enough to raise awareness of how social media works and how reality can be distortion.

But others argue that hashtags aren't enough to change the feeling of seeing a photo, just as mental health problems aren't just caused by retouched photos.

The bill is more like a "shortcut to solve problems", and people will even pay more attention to those marked parts, and still buy into a single, convergent aesthetic.

Grapes are not the only fruit.

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