Yesterday, the U.K. Advertising Authority said beauty company L’Oreal must pull two magazines ads, one featuring Julia Roberts and the other with model Christy Turlington. Usually when you hear complaints about photoshopped ads and images, the gripes have to do with folks artificially slimming stars down—tummies tucked, cellulite removed, a little fat shaved off the arms. The most recent retouching debacle, though, involves wrinkles—or, more specifically, the lack thereof.
The Roberts ad is for Lancome makeup’s ‘Teint Miracle’ foundation; the Turlington ad for a Maybelline foundation called ‘The Eraser’ (both Lancome and Maybelline are owned by L’Oreal). In Maybelline’s ad, Turlington’s ‘natural’ skin is contrasted with other parts of her face which are supposed to be covered with The Eraser, with the tagline: ‘Conceals instantly, visibly, precisely.’ Both ads imply the ladies’ flawless skin is due to their foundation.
The Advertising Authority says this is misleading, and ”not representative of the results the products could achieve,” according to NY Daily News. L’Oreal countered that yeah, yeah, maybe they’d digitally altered the images a little—just to ”lighten the skin, clean up makeup, reduce dark shadows and shading around the eyes, smooth the lips and darken the brows”—but it still believed the ad accurately reflected what the product could do.
Normally, I don’t think retouched ads should be banned. Not that I’m a fan or anything—any group or individual that wants to pressure companies to stop using these tactics sounds good to me—I just don’t think it warrants the government stepping in and prohibiting the ads from running. But these cases are a little different, because we’ve got companies advertising a skin-smoothing product next to images of what the product is alleged to accomplish that aren’t real. Shaving 20 pounds of Kelly Clarkson on a magazine cover is irritating but not illegal, but this—it’s false advertising, straight-up, no? What do you think?