France has long relied on fashion for its prestige and economy. And fashion relies on advertising. And that advertising has to manipulate a consumer's aspirations. It's a delicate, ugly and ultimately international balance. Now its under attack.
MP Valerie Boyer and 50 other lawmakers this week introduced a bill that would require "digitally enhanced" images to come complete with the following warning: "Retouched photograph aimed at changing a person's physical appearance." Explained Boyer:
These photos can lead people to believe in a reality that does not actually exist, and have a detrimental effect on adolescents. Many young people, particularly girls, do not know the difference between the virtual and reality, and can develop complexes from a very young age.
Everyone's then dragged into an ugly, puke-scented world of binging and purging. It's not good.
If this law passes, a failure to warn consumers could come with a $54,930 fine or half the advertisement's price. And, because reality can be bent in other ways, the MPs want the law to cover political campaigns, as well.
We wonder how President Nicolas Sarkozy will feel about all of this. Paris Match recently airbrushed his tummy to hide the flab he revealed on a canoe trip. Because no one, especially Paris Match, wants to see a President's spare tire.
But, another question here is whether people really want to see realistic models? Probably not, but that doesn't mean they want to see emaciated waifs, either. So, in the end, this is a good move, however melodramatic. But how would the law be monitored? Literal fashion police?
Also, what of celebrity endorsements? Can you imagine if they didn't airbrush Madonna's Louis Vuitton ads? It would be a nightmare.