About Face: should we take a stand on standards of beauty?

Sure, there's truth in advertising.  Like, that dress you saw on Giselle in Vogue?  Isn't going to look like that on your body.  And that ad for makeup featuring the Face of Lancome?  Isn't going to make your skin glow like Julia Roberts'.

Well, now it turns out that without Photoshop, even Julia Roberts doesn’t look like Julia Roberts. That’s the takeaway from the recent news that a Lancome ad featuring Julia Roberts and a Maybelline ad featuring Christy Turlington were banned in England for being overly airbrushed.

Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority decided that they “breached the advertising standards code for exaggeration and being misleading.”

The panel investigated the ads after being alerted by Jo Swinson, a member of Parliament who’s on a crusade to stop advertisers from using manipulated photographs.

“We should have some honesty in advertising and that’s exactly what the ASA is there to do. 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.”

“Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don’t reflect reality,” said Swinson. “Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm, but both Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts are naturally beautiful women who don’t need retouching to look great. This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers – let’s get back to reality.”"

Here’s some interesting reality: L’Oreal refused to show investigators the photographs of Julia Roberts before “airbrushing” —indicating, says the Guardian, that the flawless skin she has in the ad is unattainable beauty even for Julia Roberts. (I’ll remain a big fan of hers no matter what.)

If banning ads seems extreme, equally extreme are the lengths women and girls are going to in order to reach the standards of beauty pictured in the ads. Girls are on diets before they can read; eating disorders are epidemic; plastic surgeons are busier than plumbers.

And though a few stars, notably Kate Winslet, have tried to fight doctored images; and a few companies like Dove have tried using models with less than perfect bodies, truth in advertising is far from being a trend.

I think it’s encouraging that someone, somewhere is drawing a line—(and leaving in some lines). That maybe we will start learning to own our own beauty. And that hopefully the ridiculous quest for physical perfection is beginning to do an about face—don’t you think it’s about time?





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