Lib Dems: Ban airbrushed models

The Lib Dems are calling on the ASA to ban airbrushed pictures on publicity material aimed at the under-16s.
The Lib Dems are calling on the ASA to ban airbrushed pictures on publicity material aimed at the under-16s.

By Liz Stephens

Airbrushed advertising in magazines is harmful to young girls and should be banned according to the Liberal Democrats.

As part of a new policy on women's issues, the party suggested all images should be accompanied by a message indicating if they have been doctored.

It is also calling on the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to ban altered pictures on publicity material aimed at the under-16s.


The news came as it emerged this week that pregnant model Gisele Bündchen had had her "baby bump" digitally removed from publicity shots for a range of trench coats.

Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson, who oversaw the policy paper, singled out examples such as the recent Campari campaign featuring Jessica Alba, which featured a slimmed down version of the original photograph of the Hollywood actress.

The party also wants cosmetic surgery advertisements and information leaflets to carry success rates.

Miss Swinson said: "Today's unrealistic idea of what is beautiful means that young girls are under more pressure now than they were even five years ago.

"Airbrushing mean that adverts contain completely unattainable images that no one can live up to in real life.

"We need to help protect children from these pressures and we need to make a start by banning airbrushing in adverts aimed at them."

But a spokeswoman for the ASA said it would be difficult to control the practice of doctoring images.

"All ads are altered or enhanced, whether it's food that has steam added at a later date to lighting techniques to airbrushing," she said.

The issue of airbrushing first came under the spotlight in 2003 when a slimmed-down image of Kate Winslet appeared on the cover of GQ magazine.

Its editor admitted the picture had been "digitally altered" after the actress let her displeasure be known to the press.

At the other end of the spectrum, Alexandra Shulman, editor of Vogue, said the publication was frequently forced to airbrush pictures of models to make them look larger and healthier because designers had encouraged a trend of hiring models with "jutting bones and no breasts or hips".

Two years ago, a British Fashion Council inquiry conducted by Baroness Kingsmill warned that airbrushing could "perpetuate an unachievable aesthetic".

The Liberal Democrat's policy comes after it was revealed that MP Lembit Opik is dating underwear model Katie Green.

Miss Green gained publicity for winning Wonderbra's model search competition and then quitting after refusing to bow to pressure to slim down. She now fronts the 'Say No To Size Zero' campaign.

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