Body image in advertising – digitally altered images

Nov 21st '23

In 2022, Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) published an interim statement, as part of their ongoing review on body image in advertising following an open call for evidence in 2021. 


One of the policy areas for which CAP and BCAP committed to undertake further enquiry work, as set out in the interim statement, is the use of digitally altered images in advertising. The objective was to gain an up-to-date understanding of:


  • The nature of the techniques used to digitally alter images in ads, specifically how body parts or proportions can be digitally modified with such tools;
  • Any potential for body image related harms arising from the use of such images in advertising; and
  • As relevant, the advertising regulator’s role in mitigating such harms.


This included carrying out an evidence review, considering related requirements/practices in overseas’ jurisdictions (for example, in France, Israel and Norway), hosting a stakeholder roundtable and considering the potential to commission research.


Today, CAP and BCAP are publishing an update statement to report on their progress on the use of digitally altered images in advertising. The statement sets out: the policy background to this area; the political and legislative context; a report on the stakeholder roundtable held in June 2023; and the next steps in this strand of the body image in advertising review.


CAP and BCAP will be taking, and have taken, the following steps in this strand of the review. The update statement sets out CAP and BCAP’s considerations in detail:


  1. To resolve by Spring 2024, whether the existing protections in the Codes and guidance adequately address the potential harms arising from digitally altered body parts and proportions depicted in advertising.  This is included as part of the final phase in CAP and BCAP’s body image in advertising review (see Section 3 in the Interim Statement document). CAP and BCAP will continue to take an evidence-based policy making approach in their assessment;
  2. To convene a roundtable involving children and young people to help inform CAP and BCAP’s assessment under point 1. To that end, CAP and BCAP hosted a youth roundtable in October 2023, and will report their findings from this action in full in Spring 2024; and
  3. To engage with members of the advertising industry to facilitate any wider considerations of industry initiatives intended to address potential harms arising from digitally altered body parts and proportions depicted in advertising.


CAP and BCAP intend to publish the full outcome of their body image in advertising review in Spring 2024.


Source: CAP


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