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Getty Images Bans Retouched Photos That Change A Model's Body Shape

28/09/2017 6:19 AM AEST | Updated 28/09/2017 6:39 AM AEST

The world’s largest stock photo agency is banning retouched photos in which models’ body shapes have been adjusted.

Getty Images sent an email to its contributors this week stating that as of Oct. 1, the company will “require that you do not submit to us any creative content depicting models whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner or larger,” according to a screenshot of the email posted by USA Today.

Geber86 via Getty Images

Getty’s stipulation is in direct response to a new French law that requires all digitally altered photos of models to come with a label reading “photographie retouchée,” or “retouched photo,” the company said in a statement to HuffPost. France also banned excessively thin models from fashion runways earlier this year in an attempt to avoid promoting unattainable body ideals and to curb instances of disordered eating. 

Our perceptions of what is possible are often shaped by what we see: Positive imagery can have direct impact on fighting stereotypes, creating tolerance, and empowering communities to feel represented in society,” Getty said in a statement. ”...At a time when imagery is the most widely spoken global language, it has never been more important to produce and promote a visual language that is progressive and inclusive.”

Under Getty’s new rule, contributors can still alter features like hair color, nose shape, skin and blemishes, the email said. 

VladimirFLoyd via Getty Images

Photo retouching is a hot button issue in fashion and entertainment. Celebrities like BeyoncéKeira Knightly and Emily Ratajkowski have protested after seeing themselves with noticeably smaller waist sizes or larger breasts in retouched images from photo shoots. In 2015, actress Zendaya famously posted an image that a magazine had clearly altered to give her a smaller torso, waist, hips and thighs.

A post shared by Zendaya (@zendaya) on

Researchers agree that digitally altered photos can promote unhealthy body image, especially in young girls. Doing away with such images doesn’t have to hurt business: American Eagle saw a 20 percent growth in sales in the year after its lingerie brand Aerie started using unretouched photos in ad campaigns.

Getty provides images to businesses in 100 countries. The company won’t remove altered images that are already in its collection, according to a spokeswoman, who said altering a model’s body shape is rare in commercial photography, so there likely aren’t a large number of altered photos in the archives. 

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