France Just Made It Illegal to Lie About Retouching Models

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Wait, you don’t keep up with French politics? Just kidding, it’s fine. We normally don’t either. But France has a new law going into effect that we all need to pay attention to: Starting October 1, all French photographs (in print magazines, online, on posters, in ad campaigns, everything) that are retouched or edited will need to be labeled “photographie retouchée” (translation: retouched photograph).

The law aims to discourage brands from promoting unrealistic body standards—it’s got to be pretty embarrassing, not to mention distracting, to have a big disclaimer on your high-fashion ad. Plus, seeing “photographie retouchée” on photos should serve as a glaring reminder to consumers that the flawless person in the picture has been seriously manipulated to look that way. It’s basically saying, “This is not a real person!!” but way, way more tactfully.

Though these new laws only apply to France for now (fingers crossed that it spreads), small changes are taking place in the U.S. too. Two major fashion conglomerates, LVMH and Kering, recently announced they will no longer hire models younger than 16 or smaller than a U.S. size 2.

While this sounds like a big improvement in theory, in practice it’s not much. Banning models that are a size 2 or smaller is hardly drastic, especially considering the average American woman is a size 16-18. Average American women’s clothing size: comparing National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys (1988–2010) to ASTM International Misses & Women’s Plus Size clothing
Deborah A. Christel & Susan C. Dunn
International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education Vol. 10 , Iss. 2,2017
Still, it’s a step in the right direction—hopefully it will stop models from feeling like they have to be unhealthily thin in order to succeed.

And you know what? Though the fashion industry obviously has a long way to go in terms of promoting healthy body image and reflecting the body types of its consumers, we’re willing to celebrate small victories. After all, they’re baby steps in the right direction.



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