Convincing advertisers to not retouch models’ images

At a time when some companies are pledging to not digitally alter photos of models in their ads, a proposed bill in Massachusetts is aimed at convincing many more businesses to do the same.

Introduced by state Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton), with help from S. Bryn Austin, an eating disorders expert at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the bill would offer a $10,000 tax credit to any Massachusetts business with an annual revenue of at least $100,000 that can prove it didn’t digitally change models’ body size or shape, skin color, or wrinkles in their ads.

The goal is to reduce the prevalence of images that set impossible beauty standards and that increase the risk of eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and body dissatisfaction, said Austin, professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and director of STRIPED (Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders), in a July 9, 2019 WGBH segment.

“We know, one, we absolutely cannot ban digital altering of advertising images because we have First Amendment rights here,” said Austin. “Not every country has that. We respect that. So what does that leave us in the U.S.? That leaves us with the opportunity to have tax incentives.”

Watch the WGBH segment or read an article: Could A $10,000 Tax Credit Get Businesses To Stop Photoshopping Their Models?

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Bill would incentivize companies that don’t alter models’ photos (Harvard Chan School news)