U.K. equalities minister Lynne Featherstone will hold a series of meetings with fashion magazines and advertisers to discuss ways to promote images of healthy bodies to young people. Featherstone believes underweight models shouldn’t be shot for ads and editorials, and that the images shouldn’t be retouched. She would like to see health warnings on digitally altered images so viewers know they aren’t real. “Advertisers and magazine editors have a right to publish what they choose, but women and girls also have the right to be comfortable in their own bodies. At the moment, they are being denied that,” she said.
Featherstone praised curvaceous Mad Men star Christina Hendricks:
“Christina Hendricks is absolutely fabulous. We need more of those role models,” she said. Instead, young girls and women were continually confronted with false images of incredibly thin women, which could create lifelong psychological damage. It was an issue that should worry “any of us who have children”.
“All women have felt that pressure of having to conform to an unrealistic stereotype, which plagues them their whole life. It is not just the immediate harm; it is something that lasts a lifetime. Young girls are under intense pressure the whole time,” she said, adding: “I was a young girl many moons ago.”
Featherstone stressed the pressure to conform is also felt by men: “The pressure is on for everyone to look perfect.”
Of course, Featherstone makes good points: It would be nice to know what exactly has been altered in all the images of sexy ladies (and gentlemen) we see every day; it would also be nice to see some size 6 chicks mixed in with the size zeros and (of late) size 10s. But with her proposals, Featherstone wades into tricky territory about what should and shouldn’t be legislated by the government. Many models are very thin naturally, not by way of eating disorders, so it’s not fair to say all size zero girls are unwell. And is it the government’s job to instill body confidence in people? How are they to really know that it’s as dreadfully interfering in the lives of its citizens as they suggest? Is it the government’s job to fix it and make people happy, like a giant therapist?
If Featherstone is so concerned about healthy role models, why wouldn’t she also want to regulate, say, 16-year-old pop tarts who run around with side boob and V-cleavage? That kind of imagery might also send the nation’s youth down self-destructive paths … paths with not only self-doubt, but also fake leather panty-shorts and other things that are unsightly as well as unseemly.
Fashion industry faces airbrushing clampdown [Guardian UK]