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Promoting Perfectionism: Influencers to Face New Law in Norway


Source: bulbapp.com
   
News in Norway this June stated that, by law, influencers must declare if uploaded images have been subject to editing. The Independent has claimed that the law has been established to tackle the societal problems of unrealistic beauty standards. According to Norway’s Ministry of Children and Family Affairs, failure to disclose alterations may result in significant fines or possible imprisonment.

In June, the law passed after 72 officials voted in favour of the new regulations, with 15 officials against the changes to online platforms. The law requires influencers to declare the use of filters, as well as modifications to body size, shape and skin.

The BBC also posted an article following Norway’s decisions to implement declarations. They went on to say that a bill similar to Norway’s was proposed by MPs in the UK, making it compulsory to declare altered images, but it never made its way through Parliament. Dr Luke Evans who was behind the bill is waiting on the Prime Minister's backing to move the proposed bill forward. The BBC also confirmed that the new law in Norway is only applicable to paid posts.

Whether Norway’s initiative to come down on deceptive images will be followed by other countries in the near future is simply speculation at the moment.

There has been a mixed reaction to the new bill online. On Twitter last month, many users posted in support of the new regulations.




                                           

On the positive side of the bill’s reception, there was a linear narrative stating that Norway’s legal attitudes towards the problems of undeclared image alterations were progressive in tackling mental health.




Many Twitter users went on further to suggest that the bill would help to combat specific conditions such as body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders.






According to The Commonwealth Fund, Norway reported that 16% of adults in 2016 received a mental health diagnosis. This was part of a study alongside 10 other high-income countries to document depression, anxiety or other mental health diagnoses among adults. Out of context, it is difficult to interpret the findings from The Commonwealth Fund’s annual international policy survey, but when you compare the population size of Norway to that of Germany (who ranked lower on the list, reporting 9% to Norway’s 16%), with 74.7 million fewer people living in Norway, the unsettling picture of Norway’s mental health problem becomes clearer.

Online database Statista also reported on mental health in Norway in 2019. From their findings, the largest group of patients in mental health care in 2019 were between 19 to 29 years old, covering 34.1% of documented patients in the country.



While it appears that the statistical findings above support the action taken by Norway, many who have joined the discussion on Twitter are sceptical of the new law’s ability to get to the root of the problems surrounding unrealistic beauty standards.




While sites such as HYPEBEAST have relayed that the law will also apply to celebrities, the topic of plastic surgery may be significant as the discussion continues, with the BBC reporting that there had been a significant increase in bookings for surgical and non-surgical over lockdown late last year. Countries that reported a boost in appointments were: Australia, the USA, the UK, Japan, and South Korea. Psychologist Jill Owen spoke with the BBC about the rise, supporting the idea that social media and “selfie-culture” was a predominant factor in the increase. But whether image retouching was the main contributor to the complex issue surrounding social media culture seems to be abstract presently.

Many people on Instagram have also responded positively to the new law, proclaiming that body positivity will be further promoted, as we make our way toward a society more comfortable embracing naturalism and a market more centred within reality.



 

Influencers who remain at the centre of the implications of the new bill remain split on Norway’s decision - following JOE’s report. Norwegian Instagram influencer Madeleine Pedersen welcomed the new law:

“There are so many people that are insecure about their body or face. I have struggled with body issues because of Instagram, back in the day. The worst part is that I don’t even know if the other girls I looked up to did edit their photos or not. That’s why we all need answers - we need this law.”

However, Eirin Kristiansen another Norwegian Instagram influencer expresses her view that the law has notable limitations:

“To me, it seems more like a shortcut to fix a problem that won’t really do any improvement. Mental health issues are caused by so much more than an edited photo, and another badge on advertiser’s photos won’t change how young girls and boys truly feel, in my opinion.”

There is certainly a lot to unpack amidst the discussions on social media, but it seems apparent that an evaluation of the law’s impact on modern culture, mental health and social media marketing will remain elusive until the law comes into effect. Whether other countries should follow Norway's platform regulations at this time is a difficult assessment to make. Perhaps Norway is on track for a wider mental health reform, or maybe critical social media narratives are correct, and Norway's legal plans are far removed from the root(s) of the problems surrounding unrealistic beauty standards and body culture.  The Washington Post claims that the law is scheduled to come into practice in July 2022.


Stephanie Brown - Writer / Editor
Freelance writer and critic with experience in film journalism. I am a drama graduate with a great interest in media, the arts, and cultural research.

Twitter: @stephpbrown_








Promoting Perfectionism: Influencers to Face New Law in Norway Reviewed by Steph on Monday, August 02, 2021 Rating: 5

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