Someone somewhere in the UK is finally seeing sense with the banning of two US advertising campaigns that feature celebrity models with impossibly flawless skin.
According to British broadsheet the Guardian, Jo Swinson (a liberal democrat MP in the UK) complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the use of the two ads, both for L’Oreal foundations (or bases) because the products’ effects as depicted in the ads are actually a result of obvious digital enhancement, and nothing to do with the products themselves.
Jo Swinson is an established crusader who lobbies against the unrealistic images of women used in advertising and the media. In an interview with the Guardian, Swinson said: “Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don’t reflect reality. Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm.”
[adsense]One of the ads features actress Julia Roberts advertising a Lancôme product and the other features model Christy Turlington advertising Maybelline foundation (both products are owned by L’Oreal) and both ads depict the models with complexions so perfect that they are completely unachievable, unless you are 11 and have impossibly good genes or are happy to walk around with several hundred pounds worth of Photoshop on your face.
The chief executive of the ASA, Guy Parker, in an interview with the BBC said “if advertisers go too far in using airbrushing and other post-production techniques to alter the appearance of models and it’s likely to mislead people, then that’s wrong and we’ll stop the ads.”
The ASA apparently requested copies of the un-manipulated images of Roberts and Turlington so that they could compare them with the doctored versions, but L’Oreal refused to provide them. It is a requirement that all make-up advertisers submit the original shots for comparison, leaving the ASA with no choice but to ban the ads.
Julia Roberts (43) and Christy Turlington (42) both appear in the advertisements with completely flawless complexions and without a single line or wrinkle in sight. This is simply unrealistic, and bordering on the ridiculous. Even young children have expression lines.
Swinson has been under attack from the general public on various news sites who argue that an MP must have more important things to do and bigger causes to spearhead. In actual fact, this is a massive issue. When young women are more interested in their weight than their career and with anorexia and cosmetic enhancement surgery forever on the increase, I wonder what took her so long.
“There’s a big picture here which is half of young women between 16 and 21 say they would consider cosmetic surgery and we’ve seen eating disorders more than double in the last 15 years,” says Swinson. “There’s a problem out there with body image and confidence. The way excessive retouching has become pervasive in our society is contributing to that problem.”
It’s wonderful that someone is finally doing something to prevent these images from reaching the eyes of a young public made vulnerable by entirely aspirational images spread throughout the media. There are more important things for young women to focus on rather than looking ageless or ridiculously thin.
While this triumph is a good healthy step in the right direction, magazines and the media are rife with these unnatural images that promote excessively thin bodies and body obsessions. We are aspiring to be something that is unattainable because it doesn’t really exist. Not even A list celebrities look this ‘good’.
The only thing that these ads promote is the excessive use of Photoshop and other digital manipulation software.
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Images: bbc.com, dailymail.co.uk, blog.modelmanagement.com, digitalpixels.com.