LONDON/PARIS: As France imposes a requirement on advertisers to flag up retouched photographs of fashion models, an agency figure has highlighted the wider trend towards ‘authenticity’ as a factor in changing attitudes.

From Sunday it has become mandatory in France to use the label ‘photographie retouchée’ alongside “any photo used for commercial purposes when the body of a model has been modified by an image-editing software to either slim or flesh out her figure” or face fines of up to €37,500 for violations.

The new law, France24 reported, is part of a two-pronged attempt by French lawmakers to restrict fake and unhealthy portrayals of people’s bodies and, by doing so, combat eating disorders.

It’s a major problem in a country where 600,000 young people are thought to suffer from eating disorders, which are the second leading cause of death for 15-24 year-olds, after road accidents.

Separately, picture agency Getty Images has asked contributors that they do not submit any creative content “depicting models whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner or larger.”

According to Rebecca Swift, director of creative planning at Getty, trends come and go in terms of airbrushing and retouching, “but we are now very much in a period of authenticity where we are being asked to create more authentic content,” she told the Observer.

“We have about one million searches a day on our website so we have a very good sense of what the world is looking at,” she added. “Over the last two years, and more markedly over the past year, we have seen a major increase in words like ‘real life’, ‘unstilted photography’ and ‘authenticity’ – especially around women.”

While the trend is welcome, it still has a way to go in an image-obsessed world where Hillary Clinton recently expressed her shock at spending 600 hours getting hair and make-up done during the 2016 US presidential election campaign and complained that her appearance was discussed more than her policies.

Elizabeth Kesses, an author and self-esteem champion, argued in Campaign that content about women’s passions, abilities and inner beauty might be a more effective way of selling products.

“It is high time for a shift in perceptions and ad bans are part of it,” she said, “but TV producers, brand directors, artists, writers and stars all need to join the bandwagon” to tackle a crisis of low self-esteem among many women and girls.

Sourced from France24, Guardian, Campaign, Newsweek; additional content by WARC staff