The British Advertising Standards Authority forced the cosmetics giant L’Oreal to pull advertising campaigns featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington, after upholding MP Jo Swinson’s allegation that the ads were too airbrushed. Swinson has been long been part of the effort to end the practice of photoshopping models until they no longer resemble real people.
The ASA supported Swinson’s complaint, ruling that the ads were exaggerated and misleading. According to Swinson, the images had been manipulated to the point where they were “not representative of the results the product could achieve.”
In their defense, L’Oreal released red-carpet photos of the women to prove that any changes (and there were, they admitted, changes) were “not relevant.” They said that the images still showed signs of aging, but then added, rather defensively, that these were “aspirational” photos. You know it’s a bad sign when even Julia Roberts has to be airbrushed to reach the beauty to which L’Oreal wants us to “aspire.”
The cosmetics company also pointed out that the advertisements were produced by professional styling, flattering light, and an excellent photographer. The ASA acknowledged that many factors had gone into the unrealistic image that emerged, not just digital manipulation, but concluded that “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.”
In other words: not even L’Oreal’s makeup can make Julia Roberts look that good.
“Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don’t reflect reality,” said Swinson. “Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm, but both Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts are naturally beautiful women who don’t need retouching to look great. This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers – let’s get back to reality.”
Photo from dreamgirlpumpkincate210 via flickr