Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Florida) and Lois Capps (California) have co-sponsored a bill that has come to be known as the Truth in Advertising Bill of 2014 (issued on April, 27, 2014). Formally known as H.R 4341, this bill addresses the fallacies and abuse of the human body in the media. Advertising and the media have for a long time now altered and abused images of humans for commercial use. This has led to many problems, and primarily to a false perception of human perfection. This bill would require the Federal Trade Commission to submit to Congress a report and make decisions on appropriate use of altered images in commerce and advertising.
This bill finds that these altered images can, “Create distorted and unrealistic expectations and understandings of appropriate and healthy weight and body image,” leading to “eating disorders among men and women of varying age groups” with a “particularly destructive health effect on children and teenagers” (Sec. 2. Art. 3 and 4). Overall, this is a public health issue that clearly has implications for our nations well-being and needs to be addressed.
Overall, this Bill would require the FTC in addition to the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and the Administrator of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to regulate and reduce the use of photoshopped images in advertising and the media. These methods of control would be largely informed by important stakeholders from the health, business, and consumer sectors.
Congresswomen Capps has voiced her opinion, “Just as with cigarette ads in the past, fashion ads portray a twisted, ideal image for young women,” Capps said. “And they’re vulnerable. As sales go up, body image and confidence drops” (Jezebel, 2014). While many researchers and eating disorder awareness groups have lobbied for this bill, it has also faced some criticism. Dan Jaffe, of the Association of National Advertisers, thinks that the methods of regulation proposed in the bill need to be more specific, “It can’t just be the photoshopping that they go after, it would have to be tied to something specific. Are you just going to say that whenever someone photoshops it’s a per se violation? I think that would be going too far” (2014). Other opponents argue that the bill raises free speech issues and sheds too much negative light on advertising. More opponents go on to say that previous laws already address deceptive and untruthful ads.
Overall, this Bill directly addresses my area of interest in my White Paper. While addressing a governmental audience, this bill raises valid and debatable arguments for and against the further regulation of photoshop in the media. In my paper, I will argue in favor of governmental action and bills like the H.R. 4341. This will help develop my further goal of addressing the larger public health issues and unrealistic depictions of the human body in the media.
I obtained this information from the Bill itself, in addition to the reliable sources of Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen’s website. Overall, no one really argues against regulation, what is up for debate is just how these regulations will be orchestrated.
Truth in Advertising Bill 2014, H.R. 4341, 113th Cong. (2014). Print.
Jezebel, Hillary C. “Congresswomen Introduce Bill to Regulate Overzealous Photoshopping.” Welcome to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Washington, DC Office, 17 Apr. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.