Airbrushed pictures of Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington in campaigns for two L’Oreal
brands have been banned by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority on the grounds that they breached code by exaggeration and being misleading.
It seems more than a little Nanny State and I can’t really imagine something like that happening in the US. But the two ads – one for Lancôme’s Teint Miracle (with an airbrushed Julia Roberts) and the other for Maybelline’s The Eraser (featuring a touched up Turlington) – say a lot more about L’Oreal in my view.
Plainly, L’Oreal is out of touch. Women identify with real women. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that Julia and Christy look fantastic as their expressive, maturing selves. Advertising that makes ridiculous promises and holds up impossible standards of beauty is patronizing and old fashioned.
This airbrushing story comes only a couple of days after I read about a beauty industry study on why women buy beauty products. Okay, prepare to be depressed, or angered or both.
The study, based on interviews with women ages 18-50, concluded that beauty products are bought for emotional reasons rather than whether they work, by creating the perception of “caring for oneself” and removing the “guilt and worry” of not taking care of oneself.
One way of doing this, the study says is “by subtly telling them they are ugly – something that many cosmetics adverts achieve implicitly and very effectively by showing them images of unusually beautiful images”.
Reading that again and two words spring to mind. L’Oreal and cynical.