Kudos to American pharmacy chain CVS who recently announced they will stop using digitally altered images in promoting their beauty products. Helena Foulkes, President of CVS (it’s no coincidence the initiative is launched by a woman) credits this decision as a response to “the bigger conversation women are having over their own level of empowerment”. Foulkes rightly objects to being complicit in sending women a false message of perfection by digitally altering photographic images. The practice has the effect of diminishing women’s level of self-esteem and generating feelings of inadequacy.
We all know that advertising images are carefully and extensively altered to correct imperfections and it is depressing to compare our own faces to those used in beauty ads. We also understand the motives and intent. It’s about chasing dreams. Dreams sell product. Showing wrinkles does not sell so-called miracle cures. One way advertisers have of overcoming the restrictions on ‘Photoshopping’ is by using ever younger models to promote their products. But we’re not fooled. In fact, we’re angered and offended that manufacturers and advertisers actually think we believe we’ll achieve the skin of a 20-year-old if we use their products. Truth in advertising rarely exists and probably never will.
That being said, I commend the CVS decision. We’re not stupid and women do want to feel better about ourselves not worse. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. I really wouldn’t object to looking as good as Diane Keaton or Helen Mirren look in real life, without digital enhancements but whether others feel the same remains to be seen. We all want to look our best and most of us have finally figured out how to do just that with a little help from our cosmetics friends. We’re not going to be snapping selfies when we first wake up. By the time we’ve slapped on some blusher, mascara and a bit of lipstick or gloss we’re ready to face the day and our public. Good lighting helps too.
Boomer gals may no longer have the long, slender necks, poreless complexions, perfect bone structure and soft, full lips artfully concocted in the ads, but each of us knows we possess an individual kind of beauty. Some of us may no longer have a waistline but are blessed with beautiful skin. Others have fascinating eyes that come alive with a bit of mascara and liner. I know many boomers whose smiles alone can light up a room. We love fashion. We love looking our best and feeling good about ourselves. Digitally altered promotional photos only make us feel worse as we sigh and flip to the next page of a magazine. The movement toward respecting women of all ages is gaining momentum as evidenced by mature models on magazine covers and fashion features about gray hair. Give us credit for the beauty we each possess and let’s hope more companies have the courage to follow the lead of CVS.
You’re beautiful mes trÃ¨s chÃ¨res.