The first 2012 entry for our “serves-you-right-for-trying-to-gild-the-lily” file:
The British Advertising Standards Authority recently forced the world’s biggest cosmetics and beauty company, L’Oreal, to withdraw an advertisement featuring a digitally enhanced image of English actress Rachel Weisz.
It is a matter of debate whether anyone needs to be enhanced in such a manner, but I would have thought it was saying something particularly troubling about our inability to tolerate imperfection when we start doing it to the Weisz’s of the world. I know that everyone is beautiful, but Google Weisz and you will see that it is almost impossible to take a bad photo of her – never mind having to photoshop a good one.
I support BASA’s censure of L’Oreal for using such techniques “in a way that misrepresented what was achievable using the advertised product.” It’s nice to see them using the limited avenues they have at their disposal to push back on an industry that some might say rely on over-promising to stay in business. But moving beyond the fiscal to the cultural ramifications, it’s not just product efficacy that’s the problem. Advertisements like this one and many, many others send unhealthy and unrealistic messages to millions of women – not to mention sending a very narrow definition of beauty to everyone.
Hopefully, those of us starting a new year in a world of augmented Weisz’s will learn to question some of the aesthetic assumptions and omissions that culture serves up to us every day – and start looking for beauty in some unfamiliar places and faces…