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Petition call for ban on manipulated magazine images which have potential to kill

A young woman who nearly died of anorexia has launched an e-petition urging the Government to outlaw the manipulation of pictures in glossy magazines.

Rachael Johnston was given 48 hours to live three years ago after her weight dropped to 4 and a half stone – the Daily Mail reports.

She  told the paper: 'Although airbrushed images didn't actually cause my eating disorder, once I was unwell I would obsess over them. It wasn't until later that I realised what an effect these images can have and how they affected the things I did or felt."

Such manipulation of images is banned under the Press Complaints Commission Editors' Code which states in clause 1: "The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures."

But this clause has been widely ignored by the magazine industry where it has become routine to alter pictures of celebrities and models to remove blemishes and make them look thinner.

Johnston makes it clear that throughout her illness she was spurred on by unrealistic and distorted images of beauty created by the magazine industry. So in a way, this sort of manipulation is a more grievous journalistic crime than anything yet heard at Leveson - because it has the potential to kill.

The petition, which so far has 518 signatures, states: "Children and young people are being increasingly exposed to airbrushed images in the media and in adverts. These images give a false representation of beauty and thinness. Altering photos to make them look better, means children are subjected to completely unattainable images.

"Youngsters under 16 are the most vulnerable to body image and body identity security, with children as young as 10 associating being happy with being attractive.

"By banning airbrushed images that target the under 16s, it would let the UK become the leading nation in giving the next generation positive and healthy messages through the media.

"Compulsory lessons on body image would also help improve how young people see themselves and make them aware of airbrushing in the media."

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