Home Office review backs Lib Dem airbrushing proposals

Jo has welcomed a Home Office report which recommends airbrushed adverts carry warning labels.

The report by Dr. Linda Papadopoulous, released tomorrow, looks into the sexualisation of children in the media and its impacts on their behaviour.

The Liberal Democrats’ Real Women campaign has been calling for action on airbrushing and the sexualisation of children.

Commenting, Jo said:

“The Government has been dismissive of Liberal Democrat proposals to tackle harmful airbrushing, but now the Home Office’s own review shows that this is issue which needs urgent action.

“Pressure on children to conform to unhealthy body image ideals is something many parents are extremely concerned about, and we welcome Dr. Papadopoulous’ report. When it comes to children, airbrushed adverts aimed at them need to be banned.

“We will be holding a body image debate in Parliament on 8th March to take this important campaign forward.”

The Liberal Democrats’ Real Women campaign contains the following recommendation on the sexualisation of children in the media:

Require OFCOM and the ASA to add a specific gender equality strand to their roles as media regulators. Currently any concerns about the increasing sexualisation of women can only be addressed on grounds of obscenity and decency but this does not address the effects that increasing sexualisation has on the development of young girls (and boys) and the concern voiced by the End Violence Against Women campaign that this increasing sexualisation creates a ‘conducive context for violence against women’.

A recent Liberal Democrat commissioned report by the world’s leading body image experts contained scientific evidence showing how the use of airbrushing to promote body perfect ideals in advertising is causing a host of problems in young women such as eating disorders, depression, extreme exercising and encouraging cosmetic surgery. The paper reveals that:

• Body dissatisfaction is a significant risk for physical health, mental health, and thus well-being. Any factor, such as idealised media images, that increases body dissatisfaction is therefore an important influence on well-being

• Negative effects occur in the clear majority of adolescent girls and women in over 100 published scientific studies on the impact of thin, ‘perfected’, media images on girls and women

• The weight of evidence across a great many studies documents that ultra-thin and highly muscular ‘body perfect’ ideals have a detrimental effect on women and men

• Adolescents are more vulnerable than adults to body perfect images

• A subscription to a fashion magazine increased body dissatisfaction, dieting, and bulimic symptoms amongst adolescent girls who had low levels of social support

• Curbing the impact of idealised media images leads to improvement in body image and body-related behaviour

The Liberal Democrats have passed policies at their September 2009 conference to:

• Protect children from body image pressure by banning digital retouching in advertising aimed at under 16s

• Ensure adverts aimed at adults indicate clearly the extent to which they have digitally retouched people

• Teach modules on body image, health and well-being, and media literacy in schools

• Ensure schools include greater choice in physical activity to stop teenage girls dropping out of exercising

• Invest money in improving school and community sports facilities to make them cleaner, safer and more female-friendly

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