Edward Markey

From the office of:

Edward Markey

From: The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Sent By:
Bill: H.R. 4341
Date: 10/29/2014

Help Prevent the Harmful Mental and Physical Health Effects Linked to Fake, Digitally Altered Ads

Endorsed by: American Medical Association, Eating Disorders Coalition, Brave Girls Alliance, Center for Childhood & Youth Studies, Alliance for Eating Disorders, Commercial Free Childhood, National Eating Disorders Association, Parents Television Council, and the Representation Project

Dear Colleague:

Please join us as cosponsors of the Truth in Advertising Act of 2014 (H.R. 4341), a zero-cost bipartisan bill that would help stem a public health crisis affecting tens of millions of Americans. Between 14 and 30 million Americans, most under the age of 25, suffer from an eating disorder, which has the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. Many others suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress linked to the false and unrealistic expectations caused by unfair, digitally altered images in advertising.

The Truth in Advertising Act would direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to work with all interested stakeholders, including health professionals and the business community, to develop recommendations to reduce the harm of materially altered images (i.e. significant digitally manipulated faces and bodies) in advertising. We hope to achieve two things:

1. Significantly reduce the number of Americans suffering the emotional, mental, and physical health consequences, including eating disorders, related to the false and unrealistic expectations created by this unfair ad practice.

2. Bring down the healthcare costs associated with treating the health issues linked to these images, at the federal, state, district and individual levels.

While we would prefer that the advertising industry self-regulate and that Congress not have to ask the FTC to develop recommendations on how to stop the dangerous effects of fake ads, we cannot ignore the growing body of evidence showing the tragic effect on public health while advertisers refuse to change their practices. That is why this bill is a first step for starting the important conversations between health professional and industry to address this epidemic.

There is growing public recognition of the negative impact idealized images have on body image and its connection to mental health disorders. We want to ensure that the advertising industry is aware of current research, and has access to best practices to reduce the harmful effects of certain marketing tactics on public health. Providing the industry with these tools will benefit companies aspiring toward corporate responsibility, and harness the power of public opinion and the free market to encourage change.

This legislation does not create new regulations, prescribe a singular solution, or seek to place any undo limits on the legitimate commercial rights of advertisers. It does not infringe upon freedom of speech or restrict artistic expression. It seeks only to discover the best, mutually acceptable, way forward in order to protect Americans of all ages and genders from a public health crisis.

To sign on or for more information, please contact Wes Brooks in Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s office, Adriane Casalotti in Rep. Capps’ office, or Joel Richard in Rep. Deutch’s office


Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Lois Capps

Ted Deutch