Airbrushing in the media: the British government helps parents talk to tweens about it

Airbrushing in the media: the British government helps parents talk to tweens about it

“Keira Knightley’s bust was digitally enhanced in the publicity images for King Arthur in the U.S. but the British posters kept her natural physique,” the British government notes in a publication it produces to help parents discuss with their tweens how the media alters photographs and body shapes

Like we discussed yesterday, Seventeen magazine announced that it would limit its photoshopping and be more transparent about its photo shoots. The British government, however, jumped on the topic of media literacy a decade ago when it launched a “campaign on Body Confidence” in 2002.

Part of the campaign focuses on teaching tweens to “think critically about the media,” including being aware of photoshopped and airbrushed photographs.  It encourages citizens of all ages to study the portrayal of people in advertising and media and the different techniques used for digital enhancement/manipulation “in light of the fact that the average person sees about 1,500 adverts per day.”

The British government and the Equalities Minister produce materials to aid in that conversation, explaining that “[b]y helping children understand these pictures are not always a true reflection of the models they feature, we hope to protect them from suffering from low body confidence.”

The “Body Image Parent Pack” is aimed at parents of 6-11 year olds to help promote positive self-esteem among children and help tweens understand that media photos are aspirational and “not necessarily achievable.” The pamphlet says, “You can help limit the likelihood of your child being affected by poor self-esteem, by ensuring your child understands that most of the pictures they see have been altered or enhanced in order to increase their appeal and attractiveness.”

What do you think of the campaign on Body Confidence?  Is the UK doing the right thing – are airbrushing and photoshopping something that the government should be helping parents discuss with their kids?  Is that the reason that the United States had airbrushed movie posters of Keira Knightly and the United Kingdom did not?

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