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Goodbye, Photoshop! Getty bans images that alter body shapes

by Lindsay Lowe / / Source: TODAY

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Here is some pretty major news for the body-positive movement: The stock photo website Getty Images has banned all digitally retouched images that change a models’ natural body shape.

Getty revealed the new policy in an email to its network of photo contributors this week. The new rule also applies to Getty's sister site, iStock.

Starting Oct. 1, Getty photographers must not submit any "creative content depicting models whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner or larger,” the company wrote in the email. "Any content submitted where this type of retouching has been carried out will be a breach of our Submission Requirements.”

Editor retouching an image
Photo manipulation will no longer be allowed on creative images from Getty and iStock.Getty Images stock

This policy is Getty’s response to a new French law that requires all retouched images used commercially in France to include the label “retouched photography.” Getty’s decision goes one step further by banning all creative images that digitally alter body shape.

Getty Images is one of the most widely used photo agencies in the world. It provides stock images to media organizations, advertisers and other corporations in the U.S. and abroad, so this decision will have a widespread impact.

The move is all part of Getty’s push to make its creative photo library more inclusive, the agency said in an emailed statement to TODAY Style.

“Our perceptions of what is possible are often shaped by what we see: positive imagery can have direct impact on fighting stereotypes, creating tolerance, and empowering communities to feel represented in society,” the company wrote. “Over the last several years, Getty Images has made a concerted effort to change the way women and other marginalized communities are represented in media and advertising.”

Getty’s new policy also reflects an increasing demand from its customers for more realistic stock images. Searches on Getty's website for the term “unfiltered” have gone up more than threefold in the past year, the company told TODAY Style. Photo searches for “authenticity” and “real life” have also skyrocketed.

“We’ve seen a trend … away from the hyper-airbrushed, perfect images of the past,” Getty said.

In addition to Getty, several niche body-positive stock photo sites have popped up in recent years, including the Disability Stock Imagery Database, an agency focusing on the realistic portrayal of people with disabilities, and Stocky Bodies, a photo collection focusing on plus-size models.

It's important to note that Getty isn’t swearing off Photoshop altogether. The agency said in its message to contributors that other digital alterations like "a change of hair color, nose shape, retouching of skin or blemishes … (are) still acceptable.”

Still, many see this a step in the right direction for body inclusivity in the media. One Getty photographer, Darwin Brandis, called the move “refreshing,” and another Twitter user called the decision “excellent news for body image all around.”

Getty hopes all its users will agree.

“At a time when imagery is the most widely spoken global language, it has never been more important to produce and promote a visual language that is progressive and inclusive,” the agency said.

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