Friday, September 9, 2011

The New Era of False-Advertising: Rejuvination and Perfectionism

Not the news anymore, but it still bothers me.

It bothers because this matter has been brought up at least a couple of times in the past. And as much as many people know (by now) that all the ads and glamour shots we see on the pages of the glossy magazines are air-brushed and PhotoShoped. Models and celebrities do NOT look THAT perfect. They do have flaws too - they do have lines, pimples and birthmarks. They do have dark circles and yellow teeth. They do have facial and body hair. And not many people (in general) have even facial characteristic - or as they say - symmetric.

So, any time you open a magazine - and it mostly concerns the teenagers, who are more than anyone are concerned with body images and status - one thing should not be taken seriously - is the way how PERFECT the models and celebrities look like in the ads for cosmetics.

But we still do take it for real and it bothers us why the rare snapshots of celebrities in real life without make reveals a not-so-perfect and/or a not-so-young features? That means the cosmetics do not really make one younger by 10-15 years from using their products. Yes, good quality products do make a difference - but not a drastic, sci-fy one...

L'Oréal's Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington ad campaigns banned. Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson - an Advertising watchdog - complained that images overly airbrushed. And I agree with Swinson - just before the ads came out, I went to see her latest flick "Larry Crowne" and she did look her age - 44, so when the L'Oréal's ads came out with a photo of 25-year old looking Roberts, I just flipped the page and moved on reading some article. I don't pay attention to it anymore. By my current age, I've already figured out what cosmetics work for me and I'm in no denial to realize that I'd never look 18 anymore, unless I go under the knife...

So, what's the whole buzz about? I figured that the buzz was not much about the ads itself, but about the false advertising in general and about the "glorification" and "perfectionism" of a celebrity - to make them look too ideal for a regular person. How much longer a company is going to lie to the consumers about the benefits of its products/services?

L'Oréal has been forced to pull ad campaigns featuring Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts and supermodel Christy Turlington, after Swinson's complains.

Swinson, who has waged a long-running campaign against "overly perfected and unrealistic images" of women in adverts, lodged complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority about the magazine campaigns for L'Oréal-owned brands Lancôme and Maybelline. 

The ASA ruled that both ads breached the advertising standards code for exaggeration and being misleading and banned them from future publication.

L'Oréal's two-page ad featuring Roberts, who is the face of Lancôme, promoted a foundation called Tint Miracle, which it claims creates a "natural light" that emanates from beautiful skin. It was shot by renowned fashion photographer Mario Testino. The ad for Maybelline featured Turlington promoting a foundation called The Eraser, which is claimed to be an "anti-aging" product. In the ad, parts of Turlington's face are shown covered by the foundation while other parts are not, in order to show the effects of the product.
Swinson complained that images of both celebrities had been digitally manipulated and were "not representative of the results the product could achieve".

L'Oréal UK admitted that Turlington's image had been "digitally retouched to lighten the skin, clean up makeup, reduce dark shadows and shading around the eyes, smooth the lips and darken the eyebrows". However, it claimed there were still signs of aging, such as crow's feet, and that the image "accurately illustrated" the achievable results.

As much as the company tried to prove to the ASA that Roberts and Turlington do look naturally beautiful, by providing the photos from the red carpet appearances by the celebrities, it didn't make a case. "Aspirational" purpose of a campaign should not lie. Period. Because at the end of the day, "aspirational" campaigns do not inspire, but rather cause those who are far from the "standards" of fashion and beauty industry to developing deadly conditions of eating disorders, depression, and suicide. 

"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.
Some more airbrushing jobs that make it all too perfect for the most of us out there...

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