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Beauty industry Beauty brands who promise to stop airbrushing photographs don't deserve our gratitude

It was the same industry that created problem in first place


Picture from the Dove Real Beauty Pledge campaign

Picture from the Dove Real Beauty Pledge campaign

Picture from the Dove Real Beauty Pledge campaign

Unilever will no longer digitally alter models in its ads.

Well, slap me with an airbrush and call me grateful. In an ethical signpost the company recently announced that across its 200 brands only untouched images will be used.

So we'll now see bottles of Domestos without their slap on and jars of Marmite as nature intended.

It follows Olay makers Proctor and Gamble's announcement last year of its Skin Promise, assuring us that by the end of 2021 no special effects would be employed to flog its skin cream.

Previously, users were more likely to see a Jurassic Park dinosaur than an open pore.

In the US, actress Busy Philipps (yes that really is her name) now poses in all her beauty for the brand.

When you're already beautiful you'd assume Spielberg levels of image-tweaking wouldn't be necessary but this is an industry which needs to make us feel bad so we can buy its improvements.

Unilever has been on this bandwagon for a long time with its Dove 'real women' campaigns, featuring people with tummies that aren't taut and legs which have never known a thigh gap.

Obviously they're an advertisement version of ordinary, rather than everyday ordinary, so even the stretch marks are skinny.

And the brand has a little bit of catching up to do after the cringefest of its Lynx advertising campaign which featured a teenage boy being pursued by a gang of Victoria's Secret models.

Presumably they just wanted to tell him to dream on and change his skanky deodorant.

It's also stinging a bit from criticism last year of its Fair and Lovely brand, sold in India, which had to change its name to Glow and Lovely. Still terrible but without the hint of 'white is better'.

As well as insisting on the full human reality of its models and influencers, Unilever is also ditching normal from all its products. If your hair has previously been normal to dry, it's now dry to damaged. It's a fair description of my colour-treated, blow-dried, ironed-flat hair - but damaged is not an improvement. We might as well go the whole hog and describe it as 'hasn't been its natural colour since her teens'.

While all of this realness is headline-grabbing it's also as current as VHS.

Photoshop has been around for over 20 years, pummelling the public with impossible notions of perfection to make us buy stuff.

Ralph Lauren let the cat out of the bag a few years ago with a model whose head was bigger than her hips while Net-a-Porter once accidentally released a pic with the caption 'please slim'.

Any brands which are promising authenticity are a bit late to the party because the damage has already been done.

When phone cameras come with default beauty settings which airbrush automatically and three-year-olds know how to filter their pictures, the message that we are never beautiful enough has been heard, learned and passed on.

When Liz Hurley admits she Photoshops her holiday snaps, a Versace ad campaign puts digital make-up on Lady Gaga and Beyoncé slims down her own legs what hope do mere mortals with acne scars and droopy bits have of feeling adequate?

Beauty and advertising companies are falling over themselves to proclaim they love our realness but it's just safer to assume that every image has been remastered, colour corrected, smoothed and filtered.

Promises to reduce image tampering now smack of virtue signalling from brands which helped create the problem in the first place.

If we're in any doubt about their motivation, remember this is an industry that sells us Marmite as a delicious foodstuff.

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Online Editors