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Digital Manipulation of Images of Models' Appearance in Advertising: Strategies for Action Through Law and Corporate Social Responsibility Incentives to Protect Public Health

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 January 2021

Caitlin McBride
Affiliation:
Michigan State University College of Law, East Lansing, MI, USA
Nancy Costello
Affiliation:
Michigan State University College of Law, East Lansing, MI, USA
Suman Ambwani
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, USA
Breanne Wilhite
Affiliation:
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
S. Bryn Austin
Affiliation:
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA, Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Abstract

Context:

Widespread digital retouching of advertising imagery in the fashion, beauty, and other consumer industries promotes unrealistic beauty standards that have harmful effects on public health. In particular, exposure to misleading beauty imagery is linked with greater body dissatisfaction, worse mood, poorer self-esteem, and increased risk for disordered eating behaviors. Moreover, given the social, psychological, medical, and economic burden of eating disorders, there is an urgent need to address environmental risk factors and to scale up prevention efforts by increasing the regulation of digitally altered advertising imagery.

Methods:

This manuscript summarizes the health research literature linking digital retouching of advertising to increased risk of eating disorders, disordered weight and appearance control behaviors, and body dissatisfaction in consumers, followed by a review of global policy initiatives designed to regulate digital retouching to reduce health harms to consumers. Next, we turn to the US legal context, reporting on findings generated through legal research via Westlaw and LexisNexis, congressional records, federal agency websites, law review articles, and Supreme Court opinions, in addition to consulting legal experts on both tax law and the First Amendment, to evaluate the viability of various policy initiatives proposed to strengthen regulation on digital retouching in the United States.

Findings:

Influencing advertising practices via tax incentives combined with corporate social responsibility initiatives may be the most constitutionally feasible options for the US legal context to reduce the use of digitally alternated images of models' bodies in advertising.

Conclusions:

Policy and corporate initiatives to curtail use of digitally altered images found to be harmful to mental and behavioral health of consumers could reduce the burden of eating disorders, disordered weight and appearance control behaviors, and body dissatisfaction and thereby improve population health in the United States.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics and Boston University 2019

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49 See, e.g., ASA|CAP, supra note 43.

50 Jennifer Whitehead, Academics Call on ASA to Mark Airbrushed Ads, Campaign (Nov. 9, 2009), https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/academics-call-asa-mark-airbrushed-ads/965023 [https://perma.cc/FV48-KPKZ].

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55 U.S. Const. amend. I.

56 Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 558 U.S. 310, 339-40 (2010).

57 United States v. Roth, 354 U.S. 476, 486-93 (1957).

58 See Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 135 S. Ct. 2218, 2226-27 (2015).

59 Id.

60 Id. at 2233-34 (Alito, J., concurring).

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62 Id. at 562-63.

63 Id. at 566.

64 Lorrilard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly, 533 U.S. 525, 533-34 (2001).

65 Id. at 535-36.

66 See id. at 561-66.

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69 Lehman v. City of Shaker Heights, 418 U.S. 298, 302-04 (1974).

70 Id.

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91 Id. at 2.

92 Id. at 1.

93 Id.

94 See 15 U.S.C. § 45(a)(4)(A)(1) (2018). See also Fed. Trade Comm'n, supra note 90 at 5-6 (“A finding of materiality is also a finding that injury is likely to exist ….”).

95 § 45(a)(1).

96 Fed. Trade Commission, supra note 89.

97 FTC v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., 380 U.S. 374, 385 (1965); Am. Home Prods. Corp. v. FTC, 695 F.2d 681, 686 (3d Cir. 1982).

98 Fed. Trade Commission, supra note 89.

99 Id.

100 28 U.S.C. § 516 (2018).

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105 U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 1.

106 Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519, 574 (2012) (“The Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”).

108 Id.

109 Id.

110 See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-407(a)(37)(U) (2019) (rendering advertising service is a “sale” for purpose of sales tax); 61 Pa. Code § 31.21 (2019).

111 Pena, supra note 82.

112 Tax, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014).

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114 I.R.C. § 162(a) (2018).

115 § 162(j).

116 See Rev. Rul. 92-80, 1992-2 C.B. 57.

117 See Handelman v. Comm'r, 509 F.2d 1067 (2d Cir. 1975) (cost of entertaining potential clients not deductible).

118 See Regan v. Taxation with Representation, 461 U.S. 540, 548-51 (1983).

119 Strutner, supra note 84.

120 Werner, supra note 83.

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122 Certification Program Overview, asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program, https://asthmaandallergyfriendly.com/USA/about-the-certification-program [https://perma.cc/J6FY-NSY4].

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124 See Suzanne Kearns, Will Your Advertising Efforts Trigger Nexus?, Avalara (June 20, 2016), https://www.avalara.com/us/en/blog/2016/06/will-your-advertising-efforts-trigger-nexus.html [https://perma.cc/YU54-YECN].

125 Cal. Rev. & Tax. Code § 6203(c)(5)(B) (2019).

126 Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-612(C) (2018).

127 Excise, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014).

128 Excise Tax on Indoor Tanning Services Audit Technique Guide, Internal Revenue Serv. 3 (2013), https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/excisetaxindoortanning.pdf [https://perma.cc/3HYC-GTTX].

129 Id.

130 See I.R.C. § 162(a) (2018).

131 See Kearns, supra note 124.

132 Chana Joffe-Walt, Most People Are Supposed to Pay This Tax. Almost Nobody Actually Pays It., npr (Apr. 16, 2013, 3:55 AM), https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2013/04/16/177384487/most-people-are-supposed-to-pay-this-tax [https://perma.cc/P3GU-429Z].

133 See id.

134 Interview with Joshua Wease, Director, Mich. State Univ. Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, in East Lansing, Mich. (Oct. 19, 2017).

135 See Kee & Farid, supra note 7, at 19909-12.

136 See Joffe-Walt, supra note 132.

137 Interview with Joshua Wease, supra note 134.

138 See generally Seiler, Stephan et al., The Impact of Soda Taxes: Pass-through, Tax Avoidance, and Nutritional Effects (Stanford Univ. Graduate Sch. of Bus., Research Paper No. 19-12, 2019)Google Scholar (finding no significant reduction in calorie and sugar intake).

139 See Phil Ciciora, Economists: Pros, Cons to Raising the Gas Tax in Illinois, Ill. News Bureau (Apr. 20, 2015, 9:00 AM), https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/204361 [https://perma.cc/CP5Y-FGWU].

140 See Mari A. Schaefer, Soda Tax or No, Americans Aren't Drinking as Many Sugary Beverages, Study Finds, Phila. Inquirer (Nov. 13, 2017), http://www2.philly.com/philly/health/sugar-drinks-calories-beverage-tax-20171114.html [https://perma.cc/6TTE-E5L7].

141 See Ciciora, supra note 139.

142 Ana Radelat, Revenue-Hungry States Set Sights on Taxing Ads, AdAge (Feb. 25, 2013), https://adage.com/article/news/revenue-hungry-states-set-sights-taxing-ads/239989/ [https://perma.cc/C3E4-WSMA].

143 144 Cong. Rec. 12,319 (1998).

144 See U.S. Const. art. I, § 8.

145 Comptroller of the Treasury v. Wynne, 135 S. Ct. 1787, 1797-98 (2014).

146 See Dean Milk Co. v. City of Madison, 340 U.S. 349, 356 (1951).

147 Police Dept. of Chi. v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92, 95 (1972).

148 Cf. Minneapolis Star & Tribune Co. v. Minn. Comm'r of Revenue, 460 U.S. 575, 581 (1983).

149 See Lombard, Benjamin, Note, First Amendment Limits on the Use of Taxes to Subsidize Selectively the Media, 78 Cornell L. Rev. 106, 117 (1992)Google Scholar.

150 Ark. Writers' Project, Inc. v. Ragland, 481 U.S. 221, 231 (1987) (“In order to justify such differential taxation, the State must show that its regulation is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and is narrowly drawn to achieve that end.”).

151 Minneapolis Star, 460 U.S. at 591.

152 Id. at 592.

153 Ragland, 481 U.S. at 229-30.

154 Pitt News v. Pappert, 379 F.3d 96, 111 (3d Cir. 2004) (citing Minneapolis Star, 460 U.S. at 582, 585).

155 461 U.S. 540, 550 (1983).

156 Id. at 549-50 (citing Harris v. McRae, 448 U.S. 297, 316 (1980)).

157 Lombard, supra note 149, at 132.

158 500 U.S. 173, 203 (1991).

159 See id. at 207-08 (Blackmun, J., dissenting).

160 H. 3892, 191th Gen. Court. (Ma. 2019).

161 Am. Med. Ass'n, supra note 34.

162 See Darke, Peter R. & Ritchie, Robin J.B., The Defensive Consumer: Advertising Deception, Defensive Processing, and Distrust, 44 J. Marketing Res. 114, 124-26 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

163 Dominique Mosbergen, Since Lingerie Brand Aerie Ditched Photoshopped Ads, Sales Have Surged, HuffPost: Life (May 19, 2016, 1:37 AM), https://www.huffpost.com/entry/aerie-photoshop-sales-growth-2016_n_573d35d6e4b0646cbeec260c [https://perma.cc/7BAE-3LBU].

164 Edward Helmore, Clipped Wings: Victoria's Secret Sales Slip as Shoppers Become Less Daring, The Guardian (July 22, 2018, 6:00 AM), https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jul/22/victorias-secret-pink-sales-stock-down [https://perma.cc/L8Z7-N8FU].

165 Werner, supra note 83.

166 Bian, Xuemei & Wang, Kai-Yu, Are Size-Zero Female Models Always More Effective Than Average-Sized Ones? Depends on Brand and Self-Esteem!, 49 Eur. J. Marketing 1184, 1200 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

167 Id.

168 Convertino, Alexandra D. et al., An Evaluation of the Aerie Real Campaign: Potential for Promoting Positive Body Image?, 24 J. Health Psychol. 726, 734-35 (2016)CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.

169 Id.

170 About USGBC, supra note 121.

171 Certification Program Overview, supra note 122.

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