The Self Esteem Act: Parents Push for U.S. Advertisers to Disclose Air Brushing
Seth and Eva Matlins speak out against media practices they believe harm women’s self esteem.
We’ve all been exposed to airbrushed actresses gracing the covers of our favorite glossies. With their shiny locks, flawless bodies, and spotless complexions, they are quite the sight to behold for the naked eye. But beneath the hunk of cash spent on airbrushing are women very similar to the rest of us: beautiful, but flawed (it’s not a bad thing, we promise!).
For Seth and Eva Matlins, founders of online mag and fashion label Off Our Chests, it simply isn’t enough for us to expect to see digitally altered images of celebrities on billboards and in magazines: they want disclaimers on all ads or spreads in which a model was considerably Photoshopped or airbrushed.
Titled the Self Esteem Act, the newly introduced piece of legislation would make it mandatory for advertisements and editorials to label altered images.
The Matlins’ legislation comes on the heels of similar efforts in France and the UK to protect girls and women from altered images seen as potentially harmful. After complaints from Liberal Democrat MP Joe Swinson, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority banned two digitally enhanced ads starring prominent celebrities for “exaggeration and being misleading.”
The first was a Lancome Teint Miracle Foundation ad featuring Julia Roberts (our lead photo) and the second was a Maybelline Instant Age Rewind foundation ad with Christy Turlington. Both brands are owned by L’Oreal.
“We’re not concerned about digital manipulation per se,” Seth explained. “Our point to the marketers is Photoshop all you want – just tell us you did so. And if you’re uncomfortable saying you did it, maybe you shouldn’t do it.”
The couple was motivated to take action by their five-year-old daughter and their own horror at a statistic from Katherine Schwarzenegger’s book, Rock What You’ve Got, stating that, “53 percent of 13 year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies. By the time they’re 17, that increases to 78 percent.” They believe this legislation, if enacted, will begin the long reconciliation process between women and their bodies.
“Our real concern is that so many girls – and women – have come to think there’s only one physical ideal,” Seth said. “We’re concerned that so many seem to have trouble discerning between an image and ‘ideal’ created and promoted by a relatively few people, and the real. We’re wildly concerned about the epidemic crisis of self-esteem amongst girls and women, and want to try and address its causes and effects – before it infects and affects our children.”
But don’t think this duo wants to take down the (media) powers that be; rather, they believe that positive change will come through unity.
“We hope Hollywood and Madison Avenue realize they can be the heroes of this story and save and change lives as a result. We’re all in this together,” Seth said.
Diana Denza is a regular contributor to BettyConfidential