I have received representations from concerned members of the public, the advertising industry and other interested parties about the regulation of airbrushed images of women in the media. Last November I met a group of experts to discuss our shared concerns and the evidence that it had assembled on matters such as the way in which media representations of body shape can affect self-confidence and well-being. I am working with the group, with relevant industries and with the Advertising Standards Authority to identify non-legislative ways of tackling the issue.
Is the Minister aware of the petition submitted by Girlguiding UK to the Prime Minister on 4 November that called for compulsory labelling to distinguish between airbrushed and natural images? What steps will she take to ensure that consumers, especially the young, know when images have been altered?
I am aware of the Girlguiding petition. It is an excellent petition, signed by thousands of young girls. It is true that the impression given to young girls by airbrushed images has a devastating effect. We are not considering legislative processes, but following my meeting with representatives of Media Smart, a not-for-profit organisation, Media Smart is developing as part of its programme a media literacy kit for youngsters at school that will help them to become more aware that what they see is not necessarily what is real.