Public Relations is known as a ‘pink collar’ industry, but stereotypes aside, we here at SJC were discussing the future of the fashion and beauty industry with regards to the controversial topic of airbrushing – a topic that feels relevant to our female-heavy demographic.
In 2004, Dove launched its campaign for ‘real beauty,’ to challenge society’s accepted notion of beauty. The Dove ads deemed it necessary to widen the definition of beauty to make it attainable. Subsequent campaigns focused on the acceptance of wrinkles and grey hair, the self-esteem of girls who were inundated with ‘unrealistic and unattainable’ images of beauty, and the confidence of women with regards to their looks.
Jumping on the ‘real beauty’ bandwagon, several celebrities spoke openly about the use of airbrushing and photoshopping techniques on images of themselves. When Complex Magazine accidentally released the unphotoshopped version of Kim Kardashian’s cover, Kim responded saying, “I’m proud of my body and my curves and this picture coming out is probably helpful for everyone to see that just because I am on the cover of a magazine doesn’t mean I’m perfect.” Kim is not alone – Kiera Knightly, Jessica Simpson and Brad Pitt, to name a few, have spoken out against airbrushing techniques.
Be it correlation or causality, Seventeen magazine pledged not to digitally alter the images of its models in response to a crusade lead by middle-schooler Julia Bluhm- who is she?. Bluhm told npr, “We should focus on people’s personalities, not just how they look. If you’re looking for a girlfriend who looks like the models that you see in magazines, you’re never going to find a girlfriend, because those people are edited with computers.”
Ms. Bluhm may be right. Maybe we should focus on people’s personalities. Maybe we should, as the dove campaigns encourage us to, adapt a new definition of beauty and focus on ‘real beauty’. But does real beauty sell?
The popularity of the app Facetune, however, speaks to a different trend. This app describes itself as a, “fun and powerful portrait photo editor.” Translation: this app fixes your, albeit perceived, flaws, so your digital self can look its best (#selfiesaturday). The features of this app include a skin smoother, teeth whitener, eyes and lips accentuater, dark circle remover, face reshaper, etc. Facetune remains one of the top selling paid apps in the Appstore. Furthermore, Facetune isn’t the only one of its kind; Pixtr, Beauty Box, Perfect365 – all variations on a theme: the desire to look our best.
I’ll leave you with this:
The following is a quote from the recent, “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” video:
“I should be more grateful for my natural beauty. It impacts the choices in the friends we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children…it impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.”
And in the immortal words of Olivia Palermo, “”You think we’re going to have Shamu walking the runway? No way.”
The fashion/beauty industry is unique in that opposing views can be used to market to the same products. Traditional definitions of beauty drive revenue and remain as society’s standard; yet, the wider definition (no pun intended) appears to be gaining steam. Will we ever truly see a paradigm shift away from outer beauty? Can inner beauty be used as a vehicle to sell clothes? Should we stop striving for perfection?
Let us know in the comments!