The “Truth In Advertising Act”: Living in the Age of Digitally-Altered Images

Blog post contributed by Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Director @ Eating Disorder Hope and Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, President @ Eating Disorder Hope

Proofing Published Photographs

This past week, the Eating Disorders Coalition took the issue of digitally retouched images to Capitol Hill. Along with over 50 lawmakers, members of the Eating Disorder Coalition rallied support for the “Truth in Advertising Act of 2014”, a new bill introduced on March 27th which would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to study and investigate Photo-shopped advertisements.

Under this proposed bill, the FTC would also be required to work with health and business experts, such as the American Medical Association and the Eating Disorders Coalition, to develop possible regulations or strategies to decrease the use of altered images.

Have you seen this video from the Dove Beauty Campaign that reveals the reality of how images and advertisements are digitally altered. What are your thoughts?

Ms. Illeana Ros-Lehiten, the Congresswoman who proposed the “Truth in Advertising Act of 2014”, noted, “Our young people should be taught to lead healthy lifestyles, not to conform to advertiser’s fake idea of beauty.” She also stated, “The link between false ads and eating disorders becomes increasingly clear every day. We need to instead empower young men and women to have realistic expectations of their bodies.”

While the causes of eating disorders are rooted in biological and psychological reasons, environmental factors can influence the development of an eating disorder in someone who is vulnerable to these diseases.

Overexposure to Negative Imagery

Our society continues to be saturated by advertisements and images that are altered digitally, misrepresenting and distorting our perception of beauty. Health organizations and research studies have revealed the many negative consequences that are associated with exposure to digitally retouched photos/images, including decreased body satisfaction, lower self-esteem, and increased eating disorder symptoms.

While the proposed bill may face an uphill battle in passing through Congress, it is an important step towards regulation of altered images and the ads they represent in our culture. There are many ways in which you can show your support of this bill:

  • Tweet Your Support!

    Are you on twitter? Follow and re-tweet with the hashtag #truthinads to support the campaign for passing the bill. You can also tweet to representatives supporting this bill to share your concerns and voice your thoughts (@RosLehtinen, @RepLoisCapps). Find your state representative on twitter and tweet to support this bill!

  • Write a Letter:

    Voicing your concerns, sharing your experiences and stories, and expressing your support of this bill (or any legislation that supports eating disorder sufferers) can make a significant impact. The Eating Disorder Coalition leads a fantastic Letter Writing Campaign that outlines how to write to your representative.

  • Join the Eating Disorder Coalition:

    The Eating Disorder Coalition is an advocacy organization for eating disorders. The EDC advances the recognition of eating disorders by educating congress, organizing a Lobby Day, and influencing policies. If you are interested in joining their advocacy efforts, visit the Eating Disorder Coalition for more information at

We can unite our voices to express our concerns and support bills, such as The Truth in Advertising Act. As a community, we can join together to help those who are suffering from eating disorders, beginning with demonstrating our support of important legislation.

How do you think the ‘Truth in Advertising Act’ would be helpful in regulating advertisements that have been altered?


*Image courtesy of adamr at

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Eating Disorder Hope in 2005, driven by a profound desire to help those struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. This passion resulted from her battle with, and recovery from, an eating disorder.