Body Image Culture

BIM’s Guide to Body Image Law

Written by Guest Author Dr Marilyn Bromberg 

NOTE FROM BIM. We know you all have an interest in how to change the media’s use of Photoshop but the laws behind it all can sometimes become a jumble of big lawyer words that just go straight over our heads! So the amazing Dr Marilyn Bromberg has brought you the super-easy & super-effective Guide to Body Image Law!

DISCLAIMER: We want to make it clear that some women are naturally thin and Marilyn’s comments in this article discuss their weight purely from the basis of the media having an exclusive ideal of body image. Neither Marilyn nor The Body Image Movement advocates what has become known as ‘skinny-shaming’ or the shaming of any body, no matter the size.

My name is Dr Marilyn Bromberg; I am a Senior Lecturer at the Law Faculty at The University of Western Australia and the Principal at Dr Bromberg Legal. Consequently, I use legal knowledge as my tool to advocate for change in the area of the body image of women.

There are always stories in which people comment, overtly or by implication, about a woman’s figure. Whether it’s going to work with no make up and being asked ‘Are you okay? You look so tired!’ or sending friends photos with your baby only to get replies back saying ‘you look so skinny!’ with disregard to the child. These are some of the many reasons why I am passionate about taking action to improve the body image of women. In Embrace, the word that women use most often to describe their bodies is “disgusting”. Unfortunately, that fits with the feeling that many other women I know have about their bodies, and fuels my passion to advocate for change.

“When women see images in the media of unhealthily thin women, they may compare themselves to these women. If they find that they are larger than these women, they may develop poor body image and this can develop into eating disorders.”

The Photoshop Law

In 2013, I read a newspaper article about a recent law in Israel, nicknamed ‘The Photoshop Law’. This law requires:

  • Models to have a minimum BMI in order to be a model
  • Images that are photoshopped to make the model thinner- must contain a warning
  • If the law is breached, an affected party can lodge a civil lawsuit.

The French Government passed a similar law in 2015, which allows criminal sanctions for breaching it (which the Israeli law does not).

Laws like these are also making their way through the Legislature in the US, while in London- local governments forbid images of unhealthily thin models from being posted in certain places.

“While there are few laws in the body image area to date, those that exist are significant. This is one reason why Cindy Halliwell (of The University of Melbourne Law School) and I named these laws ‘Body Image Law’.”

The Body Image Law

  1. Requires models to have a minimum size in order to work
  2. Requires a warning on images of models that were altered to make the models look thinner or forbid this alteration from taking place
  3. Require stores to carry clothing in many different sizes
  4. Forbid certain words or expressions from appearing in images with models.

I look forward to the day when girls and women don’t feel pressure to be thin and the images that they see represent healthy women of all sizes. I also look forward to the day when the vast majority of women love, or are at least comfortable with, their bodies. With body image advocates like Taryn, maybe that day will come sooner than we think.

Sign the Body Image Movement petition to demand mandatory labelling on photoshopped imagery: here

To find out more about the work Dr Bromberg has accomplished and to read her articles simply follow the link below:

https://www.nd.edu.au/fremantle/schools/law/staff/mkrawitz