A member of the French Parliament, Valerie Boyer, has recently proposed that retouched images used in advertising and magazines should be labelled as such. The 47-year-old mother of three explained to the New York Times why she proposes that Parliament ought to take a stand against this issue, saying: "If someone wants to make life a success, wants to feel good in their skin, wants to be part of society, one has to be thin or skinny, and then it's not enough - one will have his body transformed with software that alters the image, so we enter a standardized and brainwashed world, and those who aren't part of it are excluded from society."
She raises a strong argument. Of course we're all too aware that the long-limbed, gorgeous specimens that grace the covers of the magazines and star in ad campaigns are likely to look that good due to the magic wand that is Photoshop. This said, however, retouchers and other industry experts are quick to remind everyone that behind most photos is a lot of time and hard work spent erasing jutting bones and other such tell-tale signs of emaciation, replacing them with a plumper, healthier look.
Boyer admits to being a fan of magazines. She said: "I buy tons of women's magazines. I love fashion and I love life...But it seems to me that as a matter of professional ethics, you have to warn people that the image of the body has been modified." Her proposal, however, is yet to discuss the extent of information relating to the retouching that will be made available to the reader. What is clear is that it will take the industry some time to warm to the idea, given that it goes against the grain. The industry is built on a foundation which seeks to sell readers things that they often don't need but will supposedly help them 'feel better about themselves'.
The fact that these things are more often than not modelled by a lithe, sun-kissed beauty is an added bonus, as it further serves as an 'inspiration' to and aspiration of the average woman. Whether it's the legs of Jourdan Dunn, breasts of Gisele, Kylie Minogue's tush, Adriana Lima's hair and so on, there will always be things a woman doesn't particularly like about herself. So despite Boyer's best efforts, is telling us that an image has been retouched going to change all our hang-ups? Maybe, maybe not. Only time will tell.