Brands that don't retouch their models may be small in number, but they are contributing to a much-needed shift in body positivity culture. Photoshopping in ads and magazines has become a toxic norm in the beauty/fashion industry, and celebrities and models alike are calling out brands that have shrunk their waist or made their breasts larger to fit an unrealistic beauty standard.
Image alteration isn't a new concept by any stretch. Hollywood starlets like Audrey Hepburn and Joan Crawford saw their photos doctored too, which goes to show how deeply ingrained this harmful practice is in our culture.
Fortunately, these brands hope to change the way fashion, makeup, and more are presented. Their campaigns celebrate diverse body types, skin tones, genders, cultures, and styles, promoting body positivity and challenging the imagery the beauty industry has been selling for so long. They emulate the idea that fashion isn’t exclusive, and everyone has the right to feel confident, sexy, beautiful, and empowered.
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The photographer makes the magazines he shoots for sign an agreement that they won't do any retouching on his photos, telling The Guardian "The cosmetic companies have everyone brainwashed. I don’t retouch anything. ‘Oh, but she looks tired!’ they say. So what if she looks tired? Tired and beautiful.”
Photo Alterations Do More Harm Than Good
Photoshopping has long been criticized, and rightfully so. Altering magazine covers and advertisements by eliminating what publishers/editors etc. see as "flaws," ultimately provide "unrealistic portrayals." They lighten skin tones, erase freckles and moles, eliminate stretch marks, shrink bodies to smaller sizes, and more. What photoshopping and the beauty industry as a whole have done is perpetuate a certain standard of beauty, and made people feel that certain parts of their body - of who they are - aren't beautiful. They've let people think that are things about them they need to hide, change, or be ashamed of.
As activist Jean Kilbourne puts it, "Ads sell more than products. They sell values, they sell images, they sell concepts of love and sexuality, of success, and perhaps most important, of normalcy."
These brands aren't having it anymore, Missguided's head of brand arguing “By showing imagery that’s real and authentic, we want to show it’s more than okay to be yourself. All you have is what you’ve got, so own it every day.”
There Are Still Big Strides To Be Made In Inclusive Body Positivity
While these creative mediums are striving to present more diversity and real imagery in their campaigns, they're small fish in a big pond of narratives all pushing their own ideas of "perfection." Amid all the noise it can become difficult for people to feel comfortable in their own skin, which is why body positivity campaigns like these are so important. They not only promote self-love, but call out the industry's underrepresentation of many communities, like people with disabilities, people of color, and those who identify as LGBTQ.
The big name brands often miss the mark, Dove being no exception with their insensitive ad, but there are hundreds of campaigns and thousands of users on social media like Virgie Tovar, Gabifresh, Megan Jayne Crabbe that dedicate their profiles and efforts to body positivity. For so long the beauty industry has given one definition of "beauty," but no more. People everywhere, are redefining beauty, redefining sexy, redefining fashion, and it's amazing.
The Movement Is Making Big Waves
The stories of these brands have been shared, retweeted, and featured in major magazines like Cosmo and Teen Vogue, showing the impact it's had on the public. The level of praise and attention these brands have received for their campaigns should show how positively people respond to seeing others they can relate to in styles they love. More than that, it highlights just how astounded people are that these brands are abandoning the practice, which goes to show that most probably thought things would never change.