End airbrushing of model’s physical appearance in photos for commercial purposes in the UK

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Our Goal is simple; We want to put an end to the airbrushing of model’s bodies, face and skin in photos for commercial purposes both in magazines and online in the UK. #EndAirbrushing 

Why support it? 

Body image anxiety is damaging the lives of children as young as 11 - with secondary school pupils considering extreme diets and cosmetic surgery. Evidence suggests that girls could start to internalise anxieties about their appearance from the age of 11, which about a year later may emerge as mental health problems. When 11 million women in the UK are feeling depressed with their appearance and one in four women in the UK are suffering from mental health issues this has huge implications for the national health service and the wellbeing of Women and Men alike. The facts are hard to ignore and WE can help to change that and we are not alone.


I believe 

• I believe in challenging gender stereotypes and social norms for the betterment of society.

• I believe advertising has a social responsibility to add value to people’s lives, it should not inadvertently spread fear and shame by mis-selling consumers via manipulated images. 

• I believe airbrushing a model’s appearance is not just morally wrong, it is disingenuous and dangerous, it contributes to body image anxiety, various kinds of psychological problems, in particular eating disorders and is increasingly affecting both women and men.


This is important because;

• A ban sends a signal about the need for change and in turn I believe will create a more open culture that is less misogynistic, less objectifying and true to reality, not a society that is increasingly manipulated by global brands through many social media platforms.

• A ban or new legislation rather than self regulation will I believe encourage positive behaviours, greater realism, increased body diversity from global brands whilst encouraging healthier attitudes to our body for both Women and Men.

• With airbrushing banned the media will be forced to show wider, more diverse and realistic body imagery which then gives a better idea of what is normal. This in turn may have beneficial effects on reducing pressure to ‘be attractive’ at the cost of short term and long term physical  and mental health.


We live in a culture that is obsessed with beauty 

• With the explosion of YouTuber’s, Bloggers and Influencers, beauty companies are paying influencers to promote products and drive beauty trends to influence consumers as never before, at every level of society and more frighteningly to kids as young as 8!

• It’s can be on your phone screen every time you look at a google search or follow a friend on Instagram or snapchat, it is pervasive across nearly every social media platform. Adverts that are invasive and inauthentic are nearly all retouched and filtered being delivered directly to you, your kids, 24/7 by algorithms and bots whose only aim is to get you to consume more products.

• We can’t turn it off - like the TV or a magazine. Everywhere we look there are adverts promoting makeup, skin, hair care, fragrances, cosmetic surgery, diet pills and fashion, the $445bn industry has the power to influence how we perceive beauty and almost all images are retouched in one form or another, these images represent a beauty standard that is unrealistic and unattainable. This is a mis-selling and mis-representation issue on the scale of the PPI scandal in Financial services and we are all being exposed to it everyday with little or no check and balances.

• We are being conditioned - the perfect looking human and what they represent, beauty, success and happiness, from the six pack in men to botox quick fix on the high street! If young women or men who have a normal bodies constantly compare themselves to these images they are likely to suffer from lower self-esteem, period!

• Airbrushing actually makes anorexic models looks less unwell - and has normalised the ultra thin body, it becomes the expected or normal thing. The readership of the media that carry these images will increasingly measure themselves against that norm which is superficial and unrealistic, many who compare themselves are likely to suffer psychologically.


A Culture shift is happening all around the world

• In Oct 2017 France announced all commercial photos of models that have been digitally altered will have to be accompanied by a line saying: “Photograph retouched to modify the physical appearance of a person.”. The law applies to photos published both in magazines and online.

• In 2018 the largest pharmacy chain in the USA - CVS announced an end to photoshopped advertisements, imagery that has been materially altered will be required to stop by the end of 2020,” meaning the brands can either follow CVS’s lead and discontinue the use of photoshopping and image altering, or CVS will place alert labels on their images.

• Getty images, the largest provider of stock photos in the world orders photographers not to alter body shapes, emailing contributors requesting “that you do not submit to us any creative content depicting models whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner or larger.”


So are we doing enough in the UK or are we just paying lip service?

• In the UK, the regulations impose a general ban on conduct which is not in ‘good faith’. All marketing communications should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society (Rule 1.3), and advertisers should ensure that they don’t portray particular body types in an irresponsible manner, imply people can only be happy if they look a certain way, or present an unhealthy body image as aspirational.

• This is a good start however because this code is not sufficiently binding, it is easily disregarded and many individuals choose to turn a blind eye to it. Mia Freedman, the former chair of the National Body Image Advisory Group, has expressed how non-mandatory codes like this one are given a “fashionable middle finger”, as very few model agents or brands truly take it into consideration. 

• If they cannot see the direct legal repercussions of their behaviour they can choose to undermine the code and shun morality. So, despite the progress the ASA has made in eliminating highly unhealthy and unrealistic depictions of beauty from the modelling and advertisement industry, the progress is limited and countless ads go unnoticed. The value of self-regulation as an alternative to statutory control is ignorantly indolent.


Think About It!

Ultimately, would it not be amazing to increase self-confidence across all genders and ages by advertising the new normal which shows the World and models as they really are? 

With just this small step (kids, women, people, everyone)will feel less pressured to aspire and conform to a norm that is not normal! 

By signing this petition you will help to start change in a digitised unobtainable utopia, to a new norm which would increase equality and become a major step to breaking gender-stereotyping in the media.