Keeping it real? Norway’s retouch law adds to legal crackdown on unattainable beauty standards

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An illustration. Photo: Getty Images
An illustration. Photo: Getty Images

In a wave of regulating the impact of influencer culture on society, Norway has amended its law to make it compulsory for content creators to disclose when pictures have been retouched.

The Hill reports that the legislation requires any photo where body shape, size or skin has been changed by retouching or other manipulation to be marked as edited.

This amendment to Norway’s 2009 Marketing Act reportedly states that celebrities and content creators have to label altered images if they are paid or if they benefit in some way from the post as well. 

Passed with an overwhelming majority of 72 - 15 in the Norwegian Parliament, this law is said to address how retouched pictures play on social insecurity, low self-esteem and contributes to body pressure – particularly among young people.

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Insider reports that some Norwegian content creators have welcomed the announcement of this new law, with YouTuber Agnete Husebye, “Young people today are growing up to a completely improbable beauty ideal … I feel that this [new law] can only help them to understand that this is not how you look, it has been edited.”

Norway is reportedly awaiting the signature of its king for the law to be enacted.

A number of other countries have taken steps through legislation to make it a requirement for content creators to declare when their photographs have been manipulated.

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As reported by BBC, in 2017 France announced a law for commercial images that has been digitally altered to make a model look slimmer will have a warning on it. Those who don’t adhere to it would be fined 30 percent of the cost of creating the ad or €37 500 (which converts to more than R600 000 in 2021).

In 2014, U.S. Congress introduced the Truth in Advertising Act of 2014, which in part aims to “reduce the use, in advertising and other media for the promotion of commercial products, of images that have been altered to materially change the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals depicted”.

Sources: The Hill, Insider, BBC, Storting Norway legislature, U.S. Congress

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