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The War on Photoshopping: UK Bans "Misleading" Makeup Ads

A government body in the UK has tossed two makeup ads after complaints that they were too exaggerated for public consumption.

Just one month after the American Medical Association officially came out against the practice of photoshopping actors and models in advertising, the British are waging their own battle against airbrushed ads.

After a complaint by female Member of Parliament Jo Swinson, who said two new ads, one for Maybelline and one for L'Oreal, were "not representative of the results the products could achieve," the federal Advertising Standards Authority deemed the ads too retouched to be allowed.

"There's a big picture here which is half of young women between 16 and 21 say they would consider cosmetic surgery and we've seen eating disorders more than double in the last 15 years," Swinson told the BBC. "There's a problem out there with body image and confidence. The way excessive retouching has become pervasive in our society is contributing to that problem."

Swinson tried to get Photoshopping banned from advertising completely in 2009, but she was unsuccessful. It's now up to the ASA to decide when companies "go too far in using airbrushing and other post-production techniques to alter the appearance of models," according to the organization's head, Guy Parker.

Both L'Oreal and Maybelline have admitted that their ads were retouched, but they argued that they weren't "misleading." Neither, however, could offer proof that their products would have the effect the ads said they would.

It's amazing that it's taken this long for governments to demand that corporations stop outright lying to consumers, but at least something's being done about it—in the UK, at least. Thus far, it seems as if the AMA's plea to stop photoshopping in America has fallen on deaf ears.

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