Should edited pictures on social media come with a disclaimer?

Photos modified by celebrities on social media may have to be labelled if a new UK law is passed
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Should edited pictures on social media come with a disclaimer?

A proposed law in the UK would see celebrities having to disclose whether they've edited their Instagram pictures if it’s given the go ahead. Editing software and apps such as Photoshop and FaceTune are well-used by celebrities and social media personalities who often use them to enhance their features.

Discussions first began when Khloé Kardashian (you may have heard of her) posted a now-viral picture of herself, which received backlash for being heavily edited, leaving fans commenting that she was unrecognisable. Many of her 121 million followers expressed their disappointment and called her out on the image, saying how women often compare themselves with unrealistic standards, leading to an unhealthy body image.

Approximately 1 in 50 people suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) - a mental health condition where individuals are constantly concerned with their appearance in a way that affects functionality in their day-to-day lives. It is especially prevalent in adolescent women and young females, with BDD even being reported in children that are just five years old. According to a survey by the UK-based BDD Foundation, 2 per cent of the UK population has BDD, and conditions are often made worse by the impact of social media.

Society argues that celebrities have a responsibility to use their platform in a way that empowers women and, with people more body-conscious than ever, these editing apps are sending out the wrong message. This isn’t the first time Instagram has had this issue. In 2019, the app had to remove filters such as Plastic, Fix Me and Bad Botox, that all promoted plastic surgery procedures (giving users larger lips, fuller cheeks and bigger eyes).

In France, a bill had previously been passed to fine brands and individuals who used image manipulation on social media, however this proved difficult as most commercial images are edited and some argue it is hard to know where to draw the line.

Having laws put in place by the government on image manipulation may be a step in the right direction, but perhaps a real positive step would be to encourage celebrities not to edit their photos in the first place, and to lead by example by sharing a message of body positivity to young girls and women that they're beautiful just the way they are.

Photos: Instagram @thefemalewarhol and Twitter