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Medical group tells advertisers: Enough with the airbrushing

Photo retouchers, step away from your digital tablets.

The American Medical Association adopted a policy today to encourage advertising associations to develop new guidelines that would bring an end to photo alterations "that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image."

Translation: If a woman with a 27-inch waist has her midsection shaved down to 21 inches, that's a problem.

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The association says numerous studies, such as this one, have found a link between exposure to images of models with Photoshopped microwaists and low self-esteem and eating disorders.

Barbara L. McAneny, an AMA board member, notes, "In one image, a model's waist was slimmed so severely, her head appeared to be wider than her waist."

Jezebel , a feminist site that often discusses body-image issues, guesses the culprit Dr. McAneny refers to is Ralph Lauren.

In 2009, BoingBoing writer Xeni Jardin found a Ralph Lauren Blue ad in which the model's waist has been retouched to such an extreme that she looks like Bratz doll. As Ms. Jardin puts it: "Dude, her head's bigger than her pelvis."

The AMA joins a chorus of celebrities who have recently spoken out against extreme retouching. In a recent Harper's Bazaar story about body image, Kim Kardashian and Joy Bryant posed nude – and unretouched. After Britney Spears posed for a Candies ad in 2009, she released unretouched images from the photo shoot.

Do you think this new recommendation will make advertisers ease up on the airbrushing?

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About the Author

Dakshana Bascaramurty is a national news reporter who writes about race and ethnicity. She won a 2013 National Newspaper Award in beat reporting for her coverage of changing demographics in the 905 region. Previously, she was a feature writer for Globe Life. More

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