Photoshop laws: Could new legislation address body image issues ?

Photoshop laws: Could new legislation address body image issues ?



The introduction of ‘photoshop laws’ as part of law reforms designed to regulate the use of ‘photoshopping’ could be one solution in addressing the epidemic of unrealistic images of women used in advertising, and by the beauty and fashion industries.

This is the hot topic under scrutiny at the Victorian Women Lawyers (VWL) Body Image and the Law Breakfast Panel Discussion, which will feature academic and lawyer, Dr Marilyn Krawitz and media personality, Tracey Spicer.

The experience of Israel is being closely watched, including by Dr Krawitz. Israel is the first country to introduce laws to address body image issues, with its Act Limiting Weight in the Modelling Industry 2012. Compliance, regulation and enforcement – and whether the new laws have had any impact on improving body image – are the focus of research undertaken by Dr Krawitz this year.

Ms Spicer is well known for speaking out on gender and body image issues, and how those issues affect women who work in the media, as well as women consumers of the media.

In Australia, in 2009, Kate Ellis MP set up the National Advisory Group on Body Image, chaired by Mia Freedman. The group delivered a report entitled “A Proposed National Strategy on Body Image” which included a voluntary industry Code of Conduct. Its purpose was to instigate change and bring to the forefront the issue of body image in Australia’s fashion industry

“It is now widely acknowledged that the voluntary code has failed, or at best, it has largely been ignored. What we now need to ask ourselves is whether regulation and law reform is the way to go from here,” said Kirsten Adams, VWL Convenor.

“For example, under ‘photoshop laws’, images that have been photoshopped would need to carry a disclosure that they have been altered – and why they have been altered. There is an argument that such laws should come within the criminal jurisdiction. Given the evidence of the link between body image issues and the very real physical and mental health harm caused by them, that makes sense.

“VWL is committed to addressing this issue. One way we can do that is by supporting and encouraging women within our membership and across the legal profession to maintain a balanced sense of self, which is needed to be able to overcome the impact of the constant barrage of unrealistic representations of women in the media.

“Another way is to use our skills and capabilities to effect change across our community. Women working in the law are naturally concerned about the representation of women in the media, and they are interested in exploring ways that the law can respond to promote more positive and natural renditions. If there are laws that need to be developed or changed, we will play our part to make it happen,” Ms Adams concluded.

WHAT: Body Image and the Law, with special guests Dr Marilyn Krawitz and Tracey Spicer

WHEN: 7.30am, Friday 16 October 2015

WHERE : Corrs Chambers Westgarth, 567 Collins Street, Melbourne

COST : Free for VWL members, $15 non-members.

Email : [email protected]


Media inquiries :Alicia Patterson 0403 17 2024 or email