The cosmetics company L'Oréal has been forced to pull ad campaigns in the UK featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington, after complaints that the images were overly airbrushed.
The official British watchdog group, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that both ads breached the advertising standards code for exaggeration and being misleading and banned them from future publication.
The banning of the ads upholds the idea that ads should accurately depict product claims. If L'Oréal claims that these celebrities look like this due to their makeup, but simulated their beauty with photo-retouching, the ASA claims an exaggerated claim, and one that is not representative of the results the product could achieve.The UK Guardian reports that
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 ageing, such as crow's feet, and that the image "accurately illustrated" the achievable results.
In addition to the official claims of "exaggeration," women's advocates see highly retouched advertising photos affecting women's self-perception and creating a false sense of real beauty.
"Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don't reflect reality," Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson is quoted in the Guardian. "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."