“We have to reduce the pressure the beauty ideal generates,” said Equality Minister Audun Lysbakken, as he presented a government plan recommending “dialogue” with advertising agencies.
Lysbakken said he wants to curb the vast reach of ads promoting “unobtainable ideal bodies”. He admits he does not know how ad agencies and the urban planning departments they strike deals with will react to warning labels indicating, “This advertisement has been altered and presents an inaccurate image of how this model really looks.”
The Labour initiative is supported by the far-left Red Party's youth wing, a group whose members have long posted their own counter-slogans on billboards they deem offensive.
At least one newer member of the Red Youth party was gunned down on Utøya Island in July during the murder rampage of the politically motivated killer Anders Behring Breivik. Most of those killed, however, were part of the Young Labour movement.
The young Labour and Red groups have long been involved in a joint action plan called Youth Against the Retouching of Advertisements. Some of the Young Labour pioneers behind the project are now in power with the group's governing parent party.
“(Red Youth) deserve a lot of honour,” Red Party leader Turid Thomassen told The Local.
“Many of those now in our ranks worked on (the beauty and advertising) issue when they were younger and still a part of (Red Youth),” Thommassen said.
“Finally, the authorities are listening.”
In his presentation, Lysbakken said hundreds of thousands of young girls endured eating disorders while living with a distorted self-image obtained partly by hopeless comparisons with “cleaned-up” beauty ads. Women’s rights groups in North America and in Europe have long allied with psychologists and sociologists against the phenomenon.
But Norwegian Business School lecturer Monica Viken said she doubts sticking warnings on billboards will have an effect on consumers.
“We have also introduced rules against hidden advertisements by putting text into ads that say this is an ad,” Viken told newspaper Bergens Tidende. adding, “I don’t know if this has had an effect on the impression the ad gives."