The Anti-Photoshop Push

STORY BY Emily Kirkpatrick

Published: August 6, 2013

Earlier in June, U.K. retailer Debenhams announced that it would stop airbrushing models bodies in all of their lingerie ads and catalog images.

According to the department stores press release the campaign “is all about making women feel fabulous about themselves rather than crushing their self-esteem by using false comparisons.” A statement quickly followed by the point that a decrease in photoshopping throughout the industry would save “millions of pounds a year...spent by organisations retouching perfectly good images.” The store also challenges their competitors to step up to the plate, with a spokesperson telling theDaily Mail"We want other retailers to follow suit and encourage positive body-image through minimal retouching rather than bombarding them with unattainable body images."

Debenhams may seem like its proposing using completely natural, realistic photos of their models, but what they actually mean is only slightly retouched images. As a rule, they airbrush minor things like “pigmentation and stray hairs,” to enhance the natural beauty of the model. Although, they do go on to list every possible thing that could have been retouched in the image and demonstrate they type of retouching a competitor might do. Keep in mind, this new proposal extends exclusively to Debenhams’ lingerie ads, all other advertising material will continued to be photoshopped as usual, according to their competitors lax standards.

It’s nice to see more and more advertisers moving towards healthy, imperfect images of models. However, as a consumer, you can’t help but feel that their motives are insincere. The initiative feels like a desperate effort to win over a disinterested audience while shaming their competitors in the process. A real initiative would take to task the photoshopping that is rampant throughout the industry by eliminating the practice on all of its images no matter the type of campaign. Minimizing your retouching practices on strictly lingerie models with such great fanfare reads as a transparent attempt to sensationalize their own unremarkable change in practices by using and manipulating the image of a predominantly naked woman. So, in reality, business as usual.



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