Adverts featuring altered images of models ‘must carry warning’
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Former GP Luke Evans says people bombarded with the enhanced images are put under huge pressure to have unattainable body shapes.
The Tory MP, 38, will present his proposals to the House of Commons on Wednesday, in a Private Members’ Bill.
Dr Evans, who represents Bosworth, Leicestershire, said: “In my role as a GP before becoming an MP, I saw first hand how unrealistic adverts and images can have a real, tangible and dangerous impact on both men and women, from eating disorders and body confidence issues, to steroid use to bulk up.
“In instances where an image has been edited for commercial purposes, or where somebody has edited an image they are being paid to post, it is absolutely right that it should carry a label to alert us to the image having been doctored.”
Just as a TV programme which features product placement must display a “P”, Dr Evans wants all altered images of bodies and body parts to carry a similar disclaimer.
He said: “No matter how much you change your diet or how much you exercise, you cannot achieve the ‘goal’ which these edited images are perpetuating.”
Dr Evans was backed by the Mental Health Foundation, which said it is “delighted” about the Bill.
One in four people aged 18-24 have told the charity they were so stressed by body image and appearance that they “felt overwhelmed or unable to cope”.
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Dr Carolyne Keenan, a chartered member of the British Psychological Society, also supports the Bill.
She said the consequences of trying to achieve an impossible body shape could be “catastrophic”.
She said of advert disclaimers: “I think it absolutely has to happen because it’s tantamount to false advertising as far as I’m concerned.
“It’s so damaging for people of all ages, not just young people.”
Dr Keenan said it is particularly dangerous when doctored images are “held up as standards of beauty” without people being informed.
Around 1.25 million people in the UK – a quarter of them male – have an eating disorder, according to the charity Beat Eating Disorders.
An inquiry by Parliament’s women and equalities committee last year said that a third of adults feel anxious or depressed about their body image.
It quoted NHS studies showing 57 per cent of young men felt pressured by social media to look good and 23 per cent believed there was a “perfect male body”.
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