It can apparently as this morning sees Advertising Standards Authority (UK) ban on the  Lancôme and Maybelline ads starring respectively actress Julia Roberts and supermodel Christy Turlington. The complaints were initially brought by Lib-Dem MP Jo Swinson, who has set up the Campaign for Body Confidence and have called on advertisers to be honest about their use of airbrushing. Swinson argued that airbrushing creates a false impression of beauty putting pressure on women and young girls who compare themselves unfavourably to the unrealistic images.

L’Oréal’s ad shot by renowned fashion photographer Mario Testino featuring Roberts, was reportedly paid around £15million to be the face of the Lancôme brand, promotes a foundation called Teint Miracle, which it claims creates a “natural light” that emanates from beautiful skin. While L’Oréal admitted that certain ‘post production’ techniques had been used on the image of the actress, it insisted the image was an accurate representation of her ‘naturally healthy and glowing skin.’ The company also maintained that the changes were not ‘directly relevant’ and that the ad was an ‘aspirational picture.’

The other ad under fire is one featuring Turlington promoting a foundation called The Eraser, an anti-ageing product. The ad shows parts of Turlington’s face are shown covered by the foundation and other parts uncovered in order to reflect the effects of the product. L’Oréal said the image had been digitally re-touched to ‘lighten the skin, clean up make-up, reduce dark shadows and shading around the eyes, smooth the lips and darken the eyebrows’ yet insisted, once again,  that the image was an accurate reflection of the benefits of the product.

On the Lancôme image, the ASA concluded, ‘On the basis of the evidence we had received we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve, and that the image had not been exaggerated by digital post production techniques’ while it maintained that the airbrushing on the Maybelline ad was also likely to mislead.

Jo Swinson welcomed the ban: ‘This ruling demonstrates that the advertising regulator is acknowledging the dishonest and misleading nature of excessive retouching. Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don’t reflect reality. With one in four people feeling depressed about their body, it’s time to consider how these idealised images are distorting our idea of beauty. This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers – let’s get back to reality.’

Can a picture be too perfect for the imperfect world to live in? Is a little bit of aspirational fantasy misleading or are 21st century women who are one click away from enhancing images they upload on social networking sites are savvy enough to differentiate between what is real and what is enhanced? Thoughts?





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