New regulations from Norway’s Ministry of Children and Family Affairs make it illegal for influencers and advertisers to share retouched photos on social media, in an attempt to curb unrealistic beauty ideals.
Passing by a landslide earlier this month — with 72 votes in favour of the change, versus 15 against — the law will require images in which the subject’s body size, shape, or skin have been altered, either before or after the photo is taken, to carry a label designed by the government ministry. Examples of the affected alterations include edited waistlines, enlarged lips, and manipulated muscles.
The law will only affect advertisements or images used for promotional purposes. However, this does include pics shared by influencers and celebrities — on platforms including Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter — if they “receive any payment or other benefits” from the posts.
Obviously, the internet has long debated the effect of technology such as filters and facetuning on beauty standards. Previously, this has influenced Getty Images’ decision to ban photos of retouched models from its image database. France also introduced legislation that requires fashion magazines to declare retouched images back in 2017.
In Norway, things are no different, with the conversation centring on a phrase that translates as “body pressure”. “Body pressure is present in the workplace, in the public space, in the home, and in various media,” writes the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs. “Body pressure is always there, often imperceptibly, and is difficult to combat.”
“A requirement for retouched or otherwise manipulated advertising to be marked is one measure against body pressure (that) will hopefully make a useful and significant contribution to curbing the negative impact that such advertising has, especially on children and young people.”
Many Norweigan influencers have also thrown their support behind the bill, and in some cases argue that it should extend to all social media posts, not just adverts. However, it remains to be seen how easy it will be to actually enforce the law, because — as proven by Diet Prada-esque accounts such as @celebface — proving that a photo is edited isn’t necessarily a straightforward task.