The majority of advertisements contain thin-ideal imagery that have been digitally modified. A robust body of research has suggested that exposure to these retouched images has negative effects on body image and increases eating disorder risk. Furthermore, these concerns are known to be highly gendered both in nature and in their extent, with women revealing higher levels of concerns predominantly related to thinness. Although not supported as a useful approach by empirical data, in 2017, France introduced a law requiring advertisers to label images featuring models whose weight and/or shape have been altered. These images must bear the label “photographie retouchée”, or “retouched image”. However, this legislation has been difficult to enforce, as unlike other French legislation related to labeling advertising, its lack of specificity makes it difficult to identify violations. Paradoxically, given its intentions, where applied, uses of the label disproportionately focus on women’s bodies in the media, as compared to men’s bodies. These findings highlight the need for legislation that is enforceable and supported by the allocation of sufficient resources. In addition, findings highlight the importance of grounding legislation and policy in the extant relevant data and involving strategic stakeholders in its creation.
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