Federal Bill Could Limit Deceptive Advertising

By Stephanie Ritenbaugh
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In an effort to prevent persistent unrealistic body images, several political leaders are pushing to pass the “The Truth in Advertising Act of 2016 (H.R. 4445)” which would direct the Federal Trade Commission to develop regulations on altering images.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Photoshopping in ads and other images is so commonplace that it’s more noteworthy when skin isn’t airbrushed, limbs aren’t stretched and waists and aren’t shrunk. And it’s hilarious when it goes wrong, as an online search of Photoshop Disasters will attest.

But critics say persistent images of inhuman body standards can be mentally and emotionally damaging, especially when directed at young people, when such body types are impossible to attain in real life.

Now, an effort to stop deceptive photoshopping in ads — practices already adopted by two apparel companies with Pittsburgh roots — may get a push forward with a federal bill.

The Truth in Advertising Act of 2016 (H.R. 4445) would direct the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces laws on deceptive ads, to develop regulations on altering images.

The bill was introduced in February by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Lois Capps, D-Calif., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and currently lists 13 co-sponsors.

As advertisers alter models’ size, proportions and skin color, the images “can create distorted and unrealistic expectations and understandings of appropriate and healthy weight and body image,” the bill states.

“Decades of academic evidence links exposure to such altered images with emotional, mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders,” the bill continues.

ModCloth, a web-native lifestyle retailer founded in Pittsburgh, went to Washington, D.C., in June to lobby for the legislation.

“Portraying women in an honest and realistic way is essential to fulfilling our brand purpose of empowering women to be the best version of themselves,” wrote ModCloth Co-founder and CCO Susan Gregg Koger in a blog post dated June 16.

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