"That's not real, right?"

As a friend and I walked through downtown Manhattan, a bus wrapped in an ad featuring a Victoria's Secret model—who was at once alarmingly taut and seductively squishy in all the right places—zoomed past us.

"No sweetie," I assured her, "it's not real." I confess, it was a little matronizing.

Though my intelligent friend suspected that the image had been digitally doctored and that the model likely had not eaten a carb in months, she was clearly rattled by the smooth two-dimensional Amazon beauty who had just zipped by.

Had she been walking London's cobbled streets, she would have been afforded greater protection from the unwanted visual assault.

British activists, recognizing the negative impact of aesthetically improved photos of human faces and bodies, especially on women and girls, lobbied Parliament in 2009 for the regulation of digitally altered images. As a result, the current UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code) was enacted September 12, 2010. The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which regulates the legality, decency, and truthfulness of ad campaigns, became responsible for monitoring and penalizing advertisers employing unrealistic digital enhancements.

This week, complaints were lodged against ads for Lancome and Maybelline, ads featuring international beauties Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington. The ads were pulled by the ASA for being overly airbrushed. Parliament member Jo Swinson, of Britain's Liberal Democrat Party, which originally pushed for the legislation, was responsible for notifying the ASA about the offensive ads. Swinson told the BBC that she believes the problem is more widespread than the two beauty ...

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