• Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Social media influencers may soon need to display body-image warning on edited photos

The Health and Social Care Committee in the UK wants the government to quickly introduce new laws.


By: Kimberly Rodrigues

In March 2019, the Independent reported that a YouGov and Mental Health Foundation survey consisting of 6,000 people had found that one in five people (20 percent) felt shame and just over one-third (34 percent) felt “down or low” in the previous year because of their body image.

Now, the Health and Social Care Committee in the UK, wants the government to quickly introduce new laws, says the BBC.

According to MPs, harmful body expectations mean that advertisements should include warnings or information if model photos are digitally altered to look more appealing.

The committee also wants tight regulation of social media promotion of cosmetic services such as dermal fillers. There is a call for dermal fillers to be prescription-only substances, similar to the way it is with Botox. Also, the committee says that there should be minimum training standards applicable to the providers.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who chairs the committee, told the BBC, “We heard of some distressing experiences – a conveyor-belt approach, with procedures carried out with no questions asked.”

The committee is suggesting that those booking a procedure should be given a 48-hour cooling-off period. Additionally, a full check of the individual’s medical and mental health history should be carried out.

Speaking about the subject, reality TV star Charlie King reportedly told the MPs that there had been no assessment of his well being when he had got a nose job done.

Additionally, Kim Booker who has body-dysmorphic disorder (spending lots of time worrying about flaws in appearance that might be unnoticeable to others) also reportedly informed the MPs that she had become dependent on image-altering apps, stated the BBC.

Kim is quoted as saying, “”I was putting filters on my face on my stories and things like that – and it completely altered the way I looked.

“When the video flipped off to my natural face, I got a bit of a shock. I hated what I saw, because you get used to the filtered version of yourself.”

The BBC has said that the committee also wants advertisers to feature a wider variety of body aesthetics. They are also asking influencers to refrain from posting filtered or unrealistic images on their social media accounts.

Advertisers, publishers and broadcasters, including those paid to put up photos, are required to be “honest and upfront” about having edited a body or body part in a picture, stated Sky News in an earlier report in January this year.

“We believe the government should introduce legislation that ensures commercial images are labelled with a logo where any part of the body, including its proportions and skin tone, are digitally altered,” the report in the BBC informed.

Former GP Dr Luke Evans, a Conservative MP, reportedly told Sky News earlier, “When I was a GP, particularly young women with eating disorders would talk about the fact they’re driven by these images and think they need to have a perfect physique.

“But you started seeing it from men, often talented sportsmen who wanted to get bigger, to look buff on the beach, so they’d start overtraining and taking unsolicited supplements but then they find themselves banned from sport because they’ve tested positive for steroids just because they thought they didn’t ‘look right’.

“One of the biggest things I’m concerned about is people trying to respond to an image that they can never actually get to.”

According to the BBC the UK Anti-Doping Agency estimates more than a million users (mostly men) want bigger muscles.

Keeping this in mind, the report also calls for the government to urgently review the growing use of anabolic steroids in the UK.

Prof James McVeigh, who helped with the report, told the BBC, “One of the key things that we are facing is that many people taking anabolic steroids for a prolonged period of time will not return to normal testosterone production.

“We know that the longer the period people use, the more damage there is in later life, with cardiovascular disease and brain changes.

“That dip when you stop using puts you at the point of zero testosterone, with depression and a lot of mental health problems.”

With regard to how social media exerts pressure on individuals to receive positive reactions from people and speaking about his experience, James Brittain-McVey, Vamps’ lead guitarist (who had surgery to remove natural breast tissue from his chest) reportedly told the committee, “Social media encouraged me to fall further down that rabbit hole.

“The first thoughts I would have when I woke up in the morning was, ‘Should I be eating that, am I going to be able to get to the gym?”‘

With the rising cases of eating disorders in recent years, the committee is recommending that the government should introduce annual checks of every child and every young person’s weight and well-being, said the BBC.

Eastern Eye

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