Should airbrushed images carry a health warning?

27 July 2010

Cheryl poses for L'Oreal Elvive shampoo

Our own Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone has got everyone in the media furiously debating the merits and morality of the process of ‘airbrushing’ or photoshopping images. She has argued that photoshop is contributing to "the dreadful pressure that young people, girls and women come under to conform to completely unachievable body stereotypes".

She will push for a Kitemark or health warning on airbrushed photographs, warning viewers that they are not real. Kitemarks are more normally used on products like smoke alarms and condoms to prove they are safe for public consumption.

What on EARTH will this look like? A big stamp similar to the designs on cigarette packaging or a discreet line under the image to tell consumers that ‘looking at digitally altered photos can seriously damage your health’ ? ? ?

Some in the fashion and image-making industry will argue that advertising images are meant to represent a fantasy rather than a reality and no one will enjoy looking at a picture of a girls with ol’ big dark circles or a spotty chin or muffin top, and that even non-famous people prefer pictures of themselves (even on Facebook) to be flattering so why shouldn’t celebs be able to see a well lit, retouched version of themselves in mags that millions of people will see?

Others will say that the age of airbrushing is on its way out anyway. When Cheryl Cole wore hair extensions in a shampoo ad there was an outcry, and the Dove soap ads starring ‘real’ women with wobbly tums and all, have done wonders for the brand's sales.

WHAT do you think? Does looking at images of perfection brighten your day or heighten your insecurities? Can we legislate against the practice or do you think the industry can be trusted to regulate itself?

Answers in the comments box below!


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