Similar to what Britney did in her Candie’s ads exposing her unretouched image alongside the touched up version, Debenhams, a UK department store selling swimwear, has chosen to show an unedited photograph of a model next to the retouched photograph with a sign written “We’ve not messed with natural beauty, this image is unairbrushed. What do you think?”
Debenham creative director Mark Woods through this campaign shows us what goes on in the editing process, in the creation of a perfect beauty as we see on every cover photos and advertisements. From the image above, about 11 touch ups have been clearly indicated, ranging from skimming of the legs, waist, arms and shoulders to smoothing of the face.
Notes on the retouched photograph:
- skintones made warmer
- face smoothed, blemish removed on lip, skin under eyes smoothed
- outline of hair smoothed
- underarm cleaned up
- hair removed
- shoulder skimmed
- shadow on cleavage enhanched
- arm skimmed
- removed fold of skin
- waist skimmed
- leg skimmed (both sides)
Through this campaign, the company hopes to raise awareness of the negative impact that a digitally enhanced beauty can do to both men and women. Besides creating an unrealistic perception of female beauty, it also diminishes the self-esteem of women who obsessively make comparisons of themselves to models and celebrities, most of whose images have undergone the same processes in the editing room.
Will we see more natural beauty in future ad campaigns? Will more retailers follow suit in being more honest about digital manipulation?
Being humans, we are naturally attracted to objects of beauty, be they people or things and ad campaigns for years has been using images good-looking women and men to sell products and capture people’s attention. Until our perception of what constitutes perfect beauty — unusually smooth skin, no loose skin or fat in sight, very tiny waists, large breasts, etc — change, digital enhancements will still have an important role to play in the advertising industry.