The topic of celebrity airbrushing has been causing a stir lately. It seems certain figures in the public eye are no longer willing to accept a retouched version of themselves fronting a magazine cover – they want their true selves revealed, wrinkles and all. It makes sense; these images aren’t realistic or attainable, and if you’re reaching out to women and instilling them with the Be Yourself mantra, constantly promoting heavily-altered images of yourself is a contradiction. A small group of admirable female celebrities are currently leading the ‘Don’t Airbrush Me’ movement and they ought to be commended for spreading this body-positive message.
This week, actress Kerry Washington made headlines, when she called out AdWeek magazine for retouching images from her cover shoot. The Scandal star used social media to comment on the cover, in which she said she felt she looked so unlike herself that she couldn’t let the issue lie. She explained she felt compelled to protest that the image “didn’t quite look like me.”
So…You know me. I’m not one to be quiet about a magazine cover. I always celebrate it when a respected publication invites me to grace their pages. It’s an honor. And a privilege. And ADWEEK is no exception. I love ADWEEK. It’s a publication I appreciate. And learn from. I’ve long followed them on Twitter. And when they invited me to do a cover, I was excited and thrilled. And the truth is, I’m still excited. I’m proud of the article. And I like some of the inside images a great deal. But, I have to be honest…I was taken aback by the cover. Look, I’m no stranger to Photoshopping. It happens a lot. In a way, we have become a society of picture adjusters – who doesn’t love a filter?!? And I don’t always take these adjustments to task but I have had the opportunity to address the impact of my altered image in the past and I think it’s a valuable conversation. Yesterday, however, I just felt weary. It felt strange to look at a picture of myself that is so different from what I look like when I look in the mirror. It’s an unfortunate feeling. That being said. You all have been very kind and supportive. Also, as I’ve said, I’m very proud of the article. There are a few things we discussed in the interview that were left out. Things that are important to me (like: the importance of strong professional support and my awesome professional team) and I’ve been thinking about how to discuss those things with anyone who is interested, in an alternate forum. But until then…Grab this week’s ADWEEK. Read it. I hope you enjoy it. And thank you for being patient with me while I figured out how to post this in a way that felt both celebratory and honest. XOXOXOX
“Look, I’m no stranger to Photoshopping. It happens a lot. In a way, we have become a society of picture adjusters – who doesn’t love a filter?!? And I don’t always take these adjustments to task, but I have had the opportunity to address the impact of my altered image in the past and I think it’s a valuable conversation. Yesterday, however, I just felt weary. It felt strange to look at a picture of myself that is so different from what I look like when I look in the mirror. It’s an unfortunate feeling.”
AdWeek responded with this:
Happy @kerrywashington was proud of her Adweek profile, sad cover misses for her. Added volume to hair for dramatic effect. No disrespect.
— Jim Cooper (@jcoopernyc) April 6, 2016
But apparently plenty else in the picture was at the mercy of a blurring tool.
And this issue doesn’t stop with Washington.
Kate Winslet put a clause in her L’Oréal contract that stated there is to be zero retouching done on her upcoming Lancôme ads as she felt she should “set an example for young women.” Following an altercation with a magazine, Lena Dunham spoke about this notion on a deeper level, and after years in the limelight at the mercy of Photoshop, she has decided enough is finally enough. She has said that from here on out, no publication is allowed to alter any images of her, ever. Amy Schumer also praise-tweeted Entertainment Weekly for not digitally manipulating her body and last year, singer Lorde did something similar, posting her unaltered image alongside its obviously airbrushed counterpart and reaffirmed that “Flaws are okay.”
i find this curious – two photos from today, one edited so my skin is perfect and one real. remember flaws are ok 🙂 pic.twitter.com/PuRhxt2u2O
— Lorde (@lorde) March 31, 2014
Lest we forget, actress Emma Roberts became the first celebrity spokesperson for Aerie, who promise that all their campaigns will be Photoshop-free. Keira Knightley posed for a similar photoshoot: “That [shoot] was one of the ones where I said: ‘OK, I’m fine doing the topless shot so long as you don’t make them any bigger or retouch.’ Because it does feel important to say it really doesn’t matter what shape you are,” said Knightley of her decision to take part in a #freethenipple campaign. And Leading UFC fighter Ronda Rousey publically spoke out after an image of her was altered without her consent. And of course, Emma Watson needs no introduction for her empowering part in the debate.
This goes against everything I believe; I am extremely proud of every inch of my body.
Though the celebrities taking a stance against airbrushing are currently few, there is no doubting their passionate outbursts are creating discussion and impact. Here at IMAGE, we’re all about self-acceptance and loving the skin you’re in, and these women epitomise this belief. They are playing a part in shaking up the unattainable pressures placed upon women to adhere to an often warped industry ideal of ‘normal’ and for that, we happily fist-pump the air in their honour.