Getty Images, one of the largest providers for stock photos in the world, has announced that it no longer allows photos of women that have been heavily manipulated to change their body shape. The agency’s decision to create this rule was in response to a new law in France, which requires a label on pictures indicating they have been Photoshopped. Both orders were enforced on October 1st, 2017.
Getty emailed contributors, requesting “that you do not submit to us any creative content depicting models whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner or larger.”
This rule is important for women in industrialized nations who are exposed to the unattainable beauty standards of everyday media. Photoshop that makes women look thinner than they really are opens doors for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa in even a casual viewer. Not only that, but the excess of these manipulated images can deeply hinder a woman’s mental stability, creating low self-esteem and poor self-image. While this new rule is a big step forward for representing authentic women and fighting eating disorders, there are still impactful stipulations which will remain the same.
A spokesperson for Getty explained in the company’s email to contributors how this decision makes them more credible, stating, “As a leader in visual communications, Getty Images upholds the responsibility to ensure accurate and authentic visual representation. Our perceptions of what is possible are often shaped by what we see: positive imagery can have direct impact on fighting stereotypes, creating tolerance, and empowering communities to feel represented in society.” However, this statement is immediately contradicted later on in the email.
The email continued, “The new rule would not apply to all modifications made to photos. Other changes made to models like a change of hair colour, nose shape, retouching of skin or blemishes, etc, are outside the scope of this new law and are therefore still acceptable.”
As progressive as Getty seems, it still remains stagnant when it comes to all other photographic alterations made to women. These factors are just as damaging for young girls and women to witness and contribute to low self-esteem. This kind of Photoshop can lead to unneeded cosmetic surgery which can cause infections, physical harm, and not to mention, huge expenses.
These heavily-edited images are more important than some people realize because when presented to everyday girls, they believe that they are seeing real bodies and that models truly look this way. In 2013, the retail company New Look gave an online survey on body confidence to 2000 women between the ages of 18 to 65. They found 15 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds believed that the images shown of models throughout the media were real depictions of what the models actually looked like. Almost one out of every four friends (24 percent) reported feeling unconfident about their bodies when they go out with friends, which is a time when girls are supposed to be their most confident selves.
France’s additional contribution to the self-image industry includes banning employment to size-zero models from top companies. Such companies, like LVMH and Kering – who own Dior, Louis Vuitton and Gucci – established this newfound trend for women exposed to these deceitful images. The size zero is an exact representation of how the media portrays women – as nothing, making them feel and look as small as possible. With this new French law, it speaks volumes to the fashion industry and its consumers to see these top designers implementing such rulings in favor of varying body types.
This ban is just the beginning of change to the falsification of women’s bodies in media outlets. Large companies like Getty Images and French modeling agencies provide a big voice to start a new discourse of women’s bodies, a discourse that, with time, will change the dominant ideologies of what women are “supposed to look like.”
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