About seven years ago, I led an intense media literacy course for a group of amazing Bay area teens. As part of the course, students created art and media pieces that illustrated how they felt about unrealistic portrayals of men and women in the media.
I was blown away when a pair of fourteen year-olds, Shari and Shila, produced this piece:
Who would have thought that their play on cigarette warning labels would come to existence in the form of warning labels on Photoshopped images of women in the media? Well, dreams do come true, or at least they might. If you’re French.
French parliamentarian Valerie Boyer and 50 other parliamentarians are proposing a new law to thwart the negative effects of unrealistic, fake, and warped images of women in magazines and other media. According to Reuters:
“These images can make people believe in a reality that often does not exist,” Boyer said in a statement on Monday, adding that the law should apply to press photographs, political campaigns, art photography and images on packaging as well as advertisements.
This new bill would force French media to disclose through a warning label any airbrushing or retouching that alters the image of a woman. If the bill is passed, a fine of 37,500 euros ($54,930) would be incurred for breaking the law.
I’m all for the idea, but I think the warning should include all images, not just those of women. In an era where photojournalists are digitally manipulating their photos for news stories, we have much more than our self-esteem to worry about. Hopefully, this law will pass and will inspire us here in the US. A girl can dream, can’t she?