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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 23 August, 2014

Airbrushed images in teen mags ‘should be labelled’

Nessa Childers MEP has called for mandatory labelling of airbrushed photographs in magazines for young people.

Julia Bluhm, 14, of Waterville, Maine, holds up a copy of
Julia Bluhm, 14, of Waterville, Maine, holds up a copy of "Seventeen" magazine
Image: AP Photo/Leanne Italie

AIRBRUSHED PHOTOGRAPHS USED in teen magazines should be labelled, an Irish MEP has said.

Labour MEP Nessa Childers is calling for mandatory labelling of airbrushed photographs in magazines aimed at young people, saying that it can be harmful.

“We know that airbrushing can play a harmful role when it comes to negative body image and eating disorders,” she said. “Airbrushing has a really damaging impact on people’s self-esteem and that’s why I believe the EU should consider introducing a mandatory warning label system.”

She is seeking proposals to mandate magazines and other publications to print a warning on digitally enhanced photographs. “We may not be able to stop the practice outright but a warning label must be the first step forward,” concluded Childers.

Eating disorders

As a former mental health professional, Childers said she has worked with many young Irish women who suffered from eating disorders and from depression due to lack of self-esteem and having poor self-image.

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. Any quick look at the publications on the shelves of our local newsagents shows that this has really gone too far. Virtually no photograph in any glossy magazine one cares to mention hasn’t been given the airbrush treatment.

She pointed out that research shows that over 70 per cent of Irish teenagers “feel negatively affected by media portrayal of body weight and shape”.

Childers said that “today’s unrealistic idea of what is beautiful means that young girls are under huge pressure”. She said airbrushing means that magazines contain “completely unattainable images”.

She also pointed out that this is not just a female issue, as 10 per cent of cases of anorexia and bulimia are males.

Childers said she wants the European Commission to investigate this matter, “not only from a health perspective but also on the possible grounds of false advertising”.

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