France mulls "health warning" for fashion photos

Models present creations by fashion designer Shiatzy Chen from Taiwan as part of her Fall/Winter 2009/10 women's ready-to-wear fashion collection during Paris Fashion Week March 12, 2009. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

PARIS (Reuters) - French politicians want to stamp a “health warning” on photographs of models that are altered in order to make them more appealing; part of a campaign against eating disorders.

French parliamentarian Valerie Boyer, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party, and some 50 other politicians proposed the law to fight what they see as a warped image of women’s bodies in the media.

“These images can make people believe in a reality that often does not exist,” Boyer said in a statement on Monday, adding that the law should apply to press photographs, political campaigns, art photography and images on packaging as well as advertisements.

Under the proposed law, all enhanced photos would be accompanied by a line saying: “Photograph retouched to modify the physical appearance of a person.”

Digitally enhanced photographs have been at the center of a string of scandals; two years ago, Paris Match altered a photo of Sarkozy to remove chubby love handles.

Luxury brands and fashion magazines have been accused of digitally making models look thinner, enhancing their breasts, whitening teeth, lengthening legs and erasing wrinkles.

Boyer said being confronted with unrealistic standards of female beauty could lead to various kinds of psychological problems, in particular eating disorders.

Breaking the law, proposed last week, would be punished with a fine of 37,500 euros ($54,930), or up to 50 percent of the cost of the advertisement.

($1=.6827 Euro)

Reporting by Sophie Hardach; Editing by Jon Hemming