Capps, Ros-Lehtinen, Introduce Truth in Advertising Act

Mar 27, 2014 Issues: Healthcare

Washington – Today, Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) introduced the Truth in Advertising Act, a bill that would direct the Federal Trade Commission to study the use of images that have been physically altered to materially change the physical characteristics of the face and bodies of the individuals depicted, and to develop recommendations and a framework to address it.

Advertisers regularly alter images used in print and electronic media, materially changing the physical characteristics of models. An increasing amount of academic evidence links exposure to such altered images with emotional, mental, and physical health issues—including eating disorders—especially among children and teenagers.

The bill would direct the FTC to develop a report that contains a strategy to reduce the use of images that have been altered to materially change the physical characteristics of the models and to work with a wide variety of outside stakeholders—including medical, industry groups, and consumer advocates—to develop recommendations for an appropriate risk-based regulatory framework with respect to such use.

As a former school nurse, I know how influential unrealistic advertising images can be, especially on our children and teenagers,” said Capps. “We must do more to ensure that our nation’s young people have the tools necessary to distinguish real life from fiction as they form a healthy body image. I am happy to sponsor this bipartisan bill with my colleague, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, because it is a good first step in combating this issue, bringing together the relevant stakeholders, and setting our kids up for success.”

It is my hope that we can foster more honest and positive body images that empower young people, not make them feel shame about their bodies,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “We must work to ensure that our young men and women do not fall prey to the false expectations of photo-shopped images. Our young people should be taught to lead healthy lifestyles, not conform to some magazine’s fake idea of beauty.”

In 2011, the American Medical Association adopted a policy encouraging advertising associations to work with public and private sector organizations concerned with child and adolescent health to develop guidelines for advertisements, especially those appearing in teen-oriented publications, which would discourage the altering photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.

The Truth in Advertising Act is supported by, among others: the Eating Disorders Coalition, the American Medical Association, The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, Women In News and Media, Eating Disorders Resource Center, and Beauty Redefined Foundation.