Rethinking The Ethics Of Photoshop

  • 2017-02-22
  • CoDesign

Ten years ago, a set of five oaths called the Designers Accord aimed to establish a code of ethics around sustainability in the design industry. More than 1,000 design firms and organizations voluntarily adopted the accord, as well as thousands of individuals from 100 countries and six continents, helping to raise awareness about eco-friendly design while giving designers a concrete way to engage clients in conversations about sustainability—today, a commonplace practice.

Now, the designer Sarah Krasley is trying to create a new kind of accord, this time for those in the business of making images. She calls it the Retouchers Accord, a Hippocratic oath for authenticity in images. The first draft of the five-part oath, modeled after the Designers Accord, places an impetus for change on the entire system, from casting directors to graphic designers to photographers to businesspeople. It recognizes the role of images in body image and self-confidence—like how Photoshopping razor-thin models to look even more frighteningly skinny can impact perceptions of beauty for adolescents. It also asks those who sign on to emphasize practicing empathy and integrity, learn more retouching techniques that embody the accord's values, and become evangelists for the cause.