The drugstore chain joins the ranks of American Eagle’s Aerie line, Dove, Bongo and Modcloth in bidding airbrushing farewell
Beauty is no longer in the eye of the photo editor.
Many companies have faced the embarrassing misfortune of publishing photos with an editing faux pas. Most recently, Vanity Fair took some heat for images that seemed to feature Reese Witherspoon with three legs, and Oprah with a third hand.
Last week, the drugstore chain CVS announced its “Beauty in Real Life” campaign, featuring unretouched images of models. And on April 19, the company’s television, print, social media and billboard advertising featuring au naturel photos made its way into the world. In an attempt to make the images feel relatable and attainable, CVS has branded each one with a Beauty Unaltered stamp, a feature that the company calls the “CVS Beauty Mark,” which is a concept they announced in January.
“Beauty in Real Life is the first campaign to demonstrate the commitment we made in January to creating new standards for post-production alteration of beauty imagery with the goal of leading positive change by reflecting more authenticity in beauty,” Norman de Greve, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at CVS Health, told Moneyish. “There’s been a shift in what consumers want to see when it comes to beauty — especially amongst Millennials and Gen Z.”
CVS might be the most recent company to bid Photoshop farewell, but it joins the likes of other large corporations like American Eagle’s Aerie line, Dove, Bongo and Modcloth that have done the same over the years.
In a poll conducted by Glamour magazine, 41% of 18- to 24-year-old women admitted to retouching their own photos. So just how does eliminating the perfection factor affect business? American Eagle’s lingerie brand has seen sales soar 32% since saying goodbye to airbrushing, according to Business Insider. For the Unilever-owned brand Dove, sales jumped from $2.5 billion to $4 billion after the 2004 launch of its Real Beauty campaign, according to Adweek.
By making a commitment to publish realistic images, psychiatrist Kirsten Thompson told Moneyish, “It provides an opportunity to strike middle ground — of appealing to a possibility of achieving a better version of ourselves.” Thompson also points out that while advertising capitalizes on fleeting unconscious thoughts and often the fantasy of “If I buy that, I will look young and beautiful,” at times, she says “imagery can diverge so far from reality that it can be impossible to relate to.”
By placing a ban on Photoshopped images and cutting out post-production editing of its in-house campaigns, CVS plans to pave the way for outside partners to adopt similar standards by 2020. Until then, Just Say Yes, an organization dedicated to empowering students, parents and teachers, reports that 69% of girls in grades 5 to 12 say magazine pictures influence their idea of a perfect body shape. And, after seeing images of female fashion models, 70% of women felt more depressed and angry than before looking at the images.
While it may not be surprising that magazines often rely upon Photoshop to perfect their images, ad campaigns that feature heavily edited faces and bodies can be misleading. Still, celebrities often come out of the woodwork to proclaim their disappointment when they feel they’ve been misrepresented due to extreme photo editing.
Although the campaign is the first of its kind for the chain, and the glam and lighting teams worked hand-in-hand to make sure beautiful results were seen in the camera, Michael Sharp, founder and CEO of the creative agency Standard Black, who partnered with CVS to create the campaign, told Moneyish, “It’s more about shifting our mindset than our process, aiming for authenticity and self-confidence in every element. We first established a production and glam team with a majority of females who would keep our cast genuine and true to themselves.” He adds that at the end of the day, the biggest surprise was that it doesn’t take much more production time to make sure you won’t need retouching. “In fact, when compensating for post-production, it actually saves time, money and energy. When everyone comes together with the same mission to redefine representation in beauty, the results shine through,” Sharp said.
In 2015, Zendaya took to Instagram to let her followers know that she was shocked to discover her body had been slimmed down by Modeliste Magazine. And in September 2017, Emily Ratajkowski let her fans know that an image of her on Madame Figaro magazine falsely represented her lips and breasts. “I was extremely disappointed to see my lips and breasts altered in photoshop on this cover. I hope the fashion industry will finally learn to stop trying to stifle the things that make us unique and instead begin to celebrate individuality,” she wrote alongside an unedited photo from the same shoot.
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