Despite being recently overturned, the Chicago City Council’s well-intentioned but clueless ban on foie gras means making snide comments about other well-intentioned yet clueless lawmakers qualifies me a stone-thrower in a glass house. Still, in a soft news story I find charmingly silly, fifty members of the French parliament want warning labels on airbrushed photographs in an effort to curb a practice that their chief proponent contends leads to eating disorders among young women. Mme. Valerie Boyer authored a government report on anorexia and obesity and has been quoted saying “we want to combat the stereotypical image that all women are young and slim.”
Good luck with that Val. And while you’re busy legislating that society push water uphill, perhaps you can insure brunettes, redheads and even the follically-challenged enjoy an amount of fun commensurate to blondes, who chronically over-index on fun. Licensing handguns may be beyond our political grasp, but perhaps we can license Photoshop owners. And we haven’t even begun to talk about full-motion video retouching, but if you’ve seen any hip-hop video in the past five years, you’ve (not) seen that at work. And yes, I’m talking to you Lil Kim.
That’s the thing about glamour and beauty and the basic currency of the image business; it’s relative and it’s heartless. Woman under 5’8″? Sorry. Soft-chinned man? Sorry. Forehead big enough to be a fivehead? Sorry. However, like so many high-fashion Steve Austin‘s, models can be radically enhanced, and so guess what that means? Both they, and the advertiser, want them enhanced. At the risk of sounding overly callous and jaded, models are chosen solely for how their faces hold light, not their thinking or dancing or position on nuclear policy. As Paulina Poriskova rather famously replied when asked how she achieved her sexy look, “It’s simple, just three steps; lick your lips, part your lips, think of nothing.”
Eating disorders are a serious problem, but responding to it with lightweight, clueless legislation destined for failure is the equivalent of slapping a Band-Aid on a chest wound.
By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79