Legislators in Norway have passed new regulations requiring influencers and advertisers to label retouched photos in a bid to fight unrealistic beauty standards.
The new regulations were passed as an amendment to the nation’s Marketing Act
via a landslide 72 to 15 vote on June 2. The King of Norway will later decide when it will go into effect.
Under the recently-passed rules, advertisements where a body’s shape, size, or skin has been retouched—even through a filter before a photo is taken—will need a standardized label designed by the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Family Affairs. Examples of manipulations requiring labeling include enlarged lips, narrowed waists, and exaggerated muscles, but it’s not clear if the same will apply to adjustments of lighting or saturation.
The law also covers images from influencers and celebrities if they “receive any payment or other benefit” in relation to the post, including on social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and Twitter. Any violations are punishable with escalating fines and, in extreme cases, even imprisonment.
The move comes amidst continued public debate in Norway surrounding “kroppspress” (literally “body pressure”), which very roughly translates to beauty standards. In its proposal to the Norwegian parliament, the Ministry of Children and Family cites studies that found what it calls "body pressure," or beauty standards, to be pervasive and a contributing factor to low self-esteem in young people.
“Body pressure is present in the workplace, in the public space, in the home, and in various media, etc,” the Ministry of Children and Family writes in the proposed amendments sent to the Norwegian parliament. “Body pressure is always there, often imperceptibly, and is difficult to combat. A requirement for retouched or otherwise manipulated advertising to be marked is one measure against body pressure.”
“The measure will hopefully make a useful and significant contribution to curbing the negative impact that such advertising has, especially on children and young people,” the ministry added.
The ministry conceded, however, that the requirement could be difficult to enforce because it’s not always easy to determine if a photo has been edited. It also noted that an unintended consequence of the law could be that influencers feel more pressure to undergo cosmetic surgery “in order to live up to beauty ideals.”
Still, according to Norwegian daily newspaper Verdens Gang the regulation has been positively received by a number of influencers in Norway, with one even arguing that it should apply to all retouched photos.