Skip to content

Photoshop and Anorexia

There have been many discussions about a labeling system to warn readers that a photographic image has been retouched in significant ways. I have worked on multiple campaigns since the early 1990s–one idea was for publishers to affix a “not-a-lens” icon (a circle with a diagonal slash across it) underneath a retouched photograph to warn the reader that the image is not a recording from the visible, and in another there was a list of six terms (photograph, photo opportunity, photo illustration, retouched photograph, composited photograph and computer-generated image) to indicate the various methods used in making the photograph. For the most part, both these campaigns were rejected as unnecessary and intrusive.

Now, French deputy Valérie Boyer, concerned about anorexia, has introduced a bill in the National Assembly that states: “Advertising photographs in which the physical appearance of people has been visually modified by a computer must be accompanied by the mention: ‘+photograph retouched in order to modify the physical appearance of a person+’”

The bill, if passed, would stipulate a penalty of 37,500 euros (over $55,000) if the warning is not used. Her objective, she states, is public health, and Boyer is interested in seeing this practice spreading to other uses of photographs as well.

As we mark twenty years since Photoshop, it is stimulating that even one society is beginning to respond to some of the challenges raised by manipulating imagery. (Thanks to GIovanni Del Brenna for the tip.)


  1. Eric Swenson wrote:

    I saw mention of this on ReadWriteWeb and immediately thought of you, but I should have guessed that you were on top of it. Glad to see you’re still in the fight.

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  2. Aric Mayer, who began his photographic career working has a retoucher, has an excellent account of what has been the norm in the fashion world. See his post at

    Friday, September 25, 2009 at 5:16 am | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *