AMA: Photoshopping Hazardous For Women’s Health

At its annual meeting in June, the American Medical Association called for guidelines to discourage airbrushing, photoshopping, retouching, etc.  in advertising “especially those appearing in teen-oriented publications.” The new policy is directed at advertising associations and public and private sector organization, at a time when 53 percent of 13-year-old American girls are unhappy with their bodies; among 17-year-olds, the number rises to 78 percent. Even more troubling, almost half of American girl 3 to 6 years old are worried they are fat.

Three-year-olds are worried about being fat?

As Barbara McAneney, a physician on the AMA’s Board of Trustees says in the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Extremely altered models can create unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image,” leading to eating disorders and other child and adolescent health problems.

Writing in Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams notes that ”number of high-profile Photoshop disasters have, in recent years, illuminated the editorial mania for credibility-straining images,” including a Ralph Lauren ad in which a model’s waist was so “downsized” that her head appeared to be wider (the Hello Kitty physique, I guess). While such “creatively altered” ads aren’t the only reason for the rampant negative body image among American girls and women, they can’t be helping.

Sure, people can choose not to look at such ads and images but the fact is, they’re simply pervasive in our culture. Indeed, I would say that most young women I know are fully aware that something’s not entirely “natural” about the appearances of the perfectly styled women they see. But just seeing those images and knowing that someone might have those proportions can set off that little sliver of doubt and insecurity in a women, so she starts skipping breakfast, limiting herself to a liquid lunch and pushing herself to burn 100 more calories on the elliptical.

So yes, I’m glad the AMA has taken a position on this issue. But I think it’s equally important, first of all, to educate children (of both genders — boys have eating disorders too) and teenagers to “read” and question the images they see. This is a generation that knows how to photoshop and that can certainly be taught to see how ads are out to deceive them.

Most of all, we’ve got to keep stressing that being thin isn’t synonymous with beauty; that looking great isn’t a matter of how you weigh — that photoshopping is for making Chinese officials levitate, but not for showing what women really look like.

Related Care2 Coverage

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Half of All Teen Girls Would Change the Way They Look (VIDEO)

Photo (of image before and after photoshopping) by dreamglowpumpkincat210


Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran6 years ago


Dorothy Dore
Dorothy Dore6 years ago

That is way too depressing.Why can't we accept what we naturally see?

Betsy M.
Betsy M6 years ago

Salesmen will tell lies if we let them. False advertising is illegal, and dangerous.

Christina Long
Christina Long6 years ago

It should be stated that the photos have been altered.

Karen B.
Past Member 6 years ago

Aren't photo shop images false advertising?
If this or that cream gives your skin a glow, why not just slather it on the model and take her pic. Just as is . . . .
Probably wouldn't sell too much that way. LOL

Malwina G.
Malwina G6 years ago

it's a shame that even if women become aware that their bodies don't have to look like those of models from the magazines there will still be millions of men who will still expect them to look this way... :/

ANA MARIJA R6 years ago

Janalke M. i agree with your comment...

Erica D.
Erica D6 years ago

I do not buy "women's magazines" and especially not any magazine that uses photoshopped pictures. Though, this is mainly because I don't concern myself over such trivial matters as makeup and fashion while much of the world starves. I suggest that people who read Cosmopolitan, Glamour, etc instead pick up Ms., Bitch, a literary magazine, a religious magazine, an art magazine, a news magazine... really, anything but trash.

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim6 years ago

Photoshop brings nothing but sad depressing thoughts to young beautiful girls. They become desperate to the point of starving themselves to get that ''perfect'' body.

Kate Florio
Kate F6 years ago

CELEBRATE YOUR DAUGHTERS...the more respect, love and acceptance the girl gets, the less she will be affected by the ads.