First Ralph Lauren ‘fessed up to bad airbrushing and stopped running his ad.
Now, Procter and Gamble is following suit with this Olay eye cream ad featuring Twiggy.
OK, “’fessed up” might not be exactly the best way to put it for either corporate giant. Perhaps “got caught and was forced to tuck tail” is more like it. Regardless, the Olay ad has just been banned in the UK. The Advertising Standards Authority banned the advertisement, which shows a 60+ Twiggy with nary a wrinkle or crow’s foot. (She had more visible wrinkles in this pic, taken in THE sixties, not when she was IN her 60s!) Their reason? "The post-production re-touching of this ad, specifically in the eye area, could give consumers a misleading impression of the effect the product could achieve." http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8415176.stm
And yet, the ASA as well as P&G are still maintaining they don’t feel ads like this could possibly be making real women feel badly about themselves. The ASA said, "We considered that consumers were likely to expect a degree of glamour in images for beauty products and would therefore expect Twiggy to have been professionally styled and made-up for the photo shoot, and to have been photographed professionally. We concluded that, in the context of an ad that featured a mature model likely to appeal to women of an older age group, the image was unlikely to have a negative impact on perceptions of body image among the target audience and was not socially irresponsible."
P&G, also, rejected the proposal that such massive retouching was "socially irresponsible".
Click here for a side-by-side comparison of Twiggy in real life and after Olay’s retouching.
And yet, study after study has documented that being exposed to altered images DOES have a significant negative effect on girls’ and women’s body image. Just last month, a large group of leading ED experts sent a paper to UK advertising authorities stating that “Although most people know in some abstract, general sense that media models are 'artificial' as a creation of make-up artists, hair stylists, and flattering clothing and camera angles, people are typically not aware of the extent to which models are altered, particularly by digital retouching and imaging techniques that reduce or enhance the size of virtually any body part, making eyes larger, waists slimmer, and legs longer and thinner."
P&G needs to stop trying to cop out of this, stand up and say, “You know what? You’re right. We messed up. We had an opportunity to show a beautiful woman in a natural, yet still appealing light, and instead we cowtowed to the pressure to make her look ageless – the same pressure that we know impacts millions of women around the globe, contributing to fractured body image and eating disorders. We realize now that we’ve alienated millions of potential customers who deserve far better. That’s why we’re pledging to start a new campaign of unairbrushed images, so women can see what our products truly look like.” I mean, honestly, if they did that, if they seemed just a teeny bit remorseful or empathetic, I’d be a bazillion times more likely to buy their products.