Body positivity advocates have criticized the fashion industry for years over the widespread use of Photoshop and similar applications. However, several companies are taking a stand against digital manipulation of images of women’s bodies in an effort to promote a more positive—and natural—approach.
Just Say No To Alterations
American Eagle is one of the most notable brands moving away from digitally altered photos. In its latest ad campaign, the retailer decided to ditch the filters and opt for a more realistic representation of male and female bodies. The American Eagle Fall 2017 denim spread will feature a wide range of models, celebrating the beauty of varied body types and skin colors.
Halima Aden is one of the models. Aden is a Somali refugee and the first-ever model to wear a hijab on the cover of Vogue. The 19-year-old recently told Pop Sugar about her quest to make the fashion industry more inclusive:
“I want girls like that to be able to flip through a magazine and see someone who looks like them,” she said. “I’m signed to one of the top agencies in the world. They already have models who are willing to bare all, but there is only one right now who is wearing the hijab.”
In 2014, American Eagle’s sister store Aerie announced that it would no longer use Photoshop in any of its ads. Most customers believed this would be a short-lived publicity stunt, but Aerie has never gone back to altering their photos.
Dana Seguin, Aerie’s director of marketing, has made it clear that the company has no interest in going back to their old ways.
“This is now our brand,” Seguin said. “It’s not a seasonal campaign for us. It is now how we’re talking to our customers.”
“We left beauty marks, we left tattoos,” added brand representative Jenny Altman. “What you see is really what you get with our campaign.”
Aerie received a lot of positive press and praise after announcing their anti-Photoshop strategy, but the company wasn’t sure how the public would react. Luckily, customers loved the decision; Aerie saw a 20 percent increase in sales in the first year after the campaign launched.
A Move Towards Diversity
Despite the positive reactions to Aerie and American Eagle’s more realistic ads, the companies still heavily rely on models who meet conventional standards for beauty. The overwhelming majority of these models are still thin and fair skinned with very Euro-ethnic facial features.
When companies refuse to use Photoshop or airbrush models, they take an essential first step towards fully representing the different body types of their audiences. Target, one of the world’s largest departments stores, is leading the way by incorporating a more diverse group of models into its advertisements. The company’s 2017 swim campaign features unaltered images of models showing off curves and stretch marks.
Target spokesperson Jessica Carlson commented on the goal of their campaign:
“Target is committed to empowering women to feel confident in what they wear by offering a variety of style choices. We loved working with these women because they embody confidence and inspire [others] to embrace and be proud of who they are, regardless of their size or shape. It was important to us to use photography that represented their true beauty, without filters.”
The body positivity movement is clearly growing, and the success of these campaigns should inspire other brands to adopt similar methods.