One Small Step for Womankind: UK Department Store Bans Photoshopping

We all know that most photos of models are photoshopped. From taking in that bit of thigh or arm “fat” to taking off every “blemish” from freckles to zits, photoshopping is a widespread practice for those in the marketing business. After all, we wouldn’t want makeup to be shown on a face with a zit, or bras and swimsuits to be modeled on someone with real-sized body parts, now would we?

Actually, lots of people would want that, both because it would be better to see clothes on someone your size before purchasing them from a catalogue or internet site, but also because it would help our body image tremendously. Sure, most people logically know that images are photoshopped, but that knowledge doesn’t necessarily help when it comes to body image. According to the Miss Representation Campaign, 3 out of 4 girls report feeling depressed, guilty and shameful after spending just three minutes looking through a fashion magazine. Eating disorders are still on the rise in America and in other countries, as well. And just think about the relief we all felt when we finally saw some real women posing without photoshop just a few years ago.

Thankfully, Debenhams, a department store in the UK that has used disabled, older and plus sized models in their marketing campaigns in the past, is taking action. They have banned the use of photoshop on pictures of their lingerie models. According to Ms. Magazine:

Debenhams hopes that other retail brands will follow suit, recognizing an ethical duty to promote realistic images but also acknowledging the economic benefits of reducing the use of digital image editing. In the wake of the whole Abercrombie & Fitch debacle, it may be worth trying to spread the message across the pond to U.S. brands as well.

Perhaps it is not surprising that this initiative is coming out of the UK considering that, in 2010, equalities minister Lynne Featherstone tried to ban retouching and the use of underweight models. In 2009, a member of the French parliament proposed that images that had been retouched would have to contain a warning label stating they had been altered. Not much came of these discussions, but there is a need for them to continue; and, as Debenhams shows, there is a need for direct action.

With all of the conversations going on across the world, why hasn’t America caught up? We, in the land of the fad diets and the home of the size 000 (I wish I was kidding), have a definite need to discuss photoshopping and the damaging effects it has on our youth. In 2011, the American Medical Association denounced the use of photoshopping in American media and followed France’s lead in asking for digitally manipulated photos to carry warning labels, which was a step in the right direction, but not much came of it. So what has happened since then? Unfortunately, not much.

In a perfect world, all companies would feel a moral obligation to follow Debenhams’ lead and stop the retouching of models. However, we can’t trust that companies will follow their lead. There needs to be some kind of legislation banning the use of digital retouching, and it needs to happen fast, before we lose anyone else to an eating disorder.

Photo Credit: Jezebel, from Debenhams

167 comments

Carmen Harris
Carmen Harris2 years ago

Yes, I think people should stop using photoshopped images everywhere. It's nice it see images that are not photoshopped and people that have 'flaws'.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers2 years ago

Finally! I hope the US will follow suit!

jenny H.
jenny H.2 years ago

This is great to hear - hopefully more will follow their lead.

Stacey Toda
Stacey Toda2 years ago

Good to hear, stores should do this

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se2 years ago

ty

Arlene Morrison
Arlene Morrison2 years ago

Good old Debs!I think M and S uses people like Twiggy but I am sure they don't photoshop either.~what's the point if most people don't look like that!~disappointment looms!If more people were comfortable with how they looked we would all be happier!

Arlene Morrison
Arlene Morrison2 years ago

Good old Debs!I think M and S uses people like Twiggy but I am sure they don't photoshop either.~what's the point if most people don't look like that!~disappointment looms!If more people were comfortable with how they looked we would all be happier!

Sylvia M.
Sylvia M.3 years ago

The Brits use more "real" people in television and movies as well. The star can actually be a regular woman or male...one that wouldn't pass the Hollywood Hunk Test. And usually, these shows are much more interesting and the writing is far far superior to much of what we see here.

Sheila Niermeier
Sheila N.3 years ago

I love good news and I love the Brits! Although they have their problems (like all of us) they usually handle them with grace. For a boost of love, hope and humour their t.v. is the best.

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B.3 years ago

Hurray for Debenhams!