Photoshop Law keeps 'beauty' real

Marilyn Krawitz is calling for the Australian Government to consider implementing Israel's 'Photoshop Law' to help mitigate the onset of youth body image issues.

6 June 2014

Research conducted by a lecturer at The University of Notre Dame Australia's School of Law, Fremantle, Marilyn Krawitz, published this week in the Journal of Law and Medicine, states that seeing digitally-altered images of people in popular media can create negative body image issues in young people. Ms Krawitz is calling for the Australian Government to consider implementing Israel's 'Photoshop Law' to help mitigate the onset of youth body image issues.

The first scholarly article in Australia on this topic, the article titled 'Beauty is only Photoshop Deep: Legislating Models' BMIs and Photoshopping Images', discusses the Photoshop Law in Israel and the voluntary code in Australia concerning the minimum BMI of models. Ms Krawitz raises the question of whether a warning is required when photographs are 'Photoshopped' in the media.

The 'Photoshop Law' in Israel is the first law of its kind in the world. It requires any advertising, marketing or media agency to disclose if their photos taken and/or published underwent digital alteration to make their subjects 'thinner' or 'more perfect'.

Adopted in 2012 by the Israeli government, models who have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 are disqualified from modelling unless they increase their BMI to the required level.

"The body image of young Australians is an important issue that affects thousands of young Australians," Ms Krawitz said.

"When young Australians see photos of models who are unhealthily thin or that were 'Photoshopped', it can increase the dissatisfaction with their own bodies. They may also believe that the 'Photoshopped' images that they see are real, because they see the images so often.

"I will continue to research this important area so that I can make recommendations that may assist."

Ms Krawitz suggests that the Code of Conduct, drafted by The National Advisory Group on Body Image in Australia, should become legislation. This will put much needed pressure on the relevant people in the modelling, fashion and media industries to abide by it.

In turn, it's hoped that this could result in young women's health improving because less young Australians suffer from eating disorders. If the Australian Government legislates in this area, it could also provide additional attention to young Australians' body image issues and their associated problems with it.

Dean of the School of Law, Fremantle, Professor Doug Hodgson, says this research has the potential, if adopted, to change Australia's growing 'image-conscious' society.

"Ms Krawitz's research is an outstanding example of the cutting edge legal research of the academics at Notre Dame's Schools of Law," Professor Hodgson said.

"This research can benefit the wider community because it addresses a nationwide problem."

Marilyn Krawitz is a lecturer at The University of Notre Dame Australia's School of Law, Fremantle and a lawyer. Ms Krawitz is an expert in social media and the courts. She also researches in the areas of dispute resolution and health law. She has presented her research at the Supreme Court of Canada, Harvard University and the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney. Notre Dame's Schools of Law in Fremantle and Sydney are committed to providing students with the highest level of practical training for the legal profession, including mandatory classes in advocacy, alternative dispute resolution and ethics. Students take some classes in a building that was once a fully functioning court.

Notre Dame has one of the highest graduate employment rates in Australia.* Applications are open for Semester 2 – notredame.edu.au

MEDIA CONTACT
Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093; leigh.dawson@nd.edu.au