Should Airbrushed Women Be Allowed?

I might add should doctored photos of any gender be allowed as they perpetuate a false idea. That false idea impacts most severely on women, hence the title.

Such is the prevalence of airbrushed photos of women that when a photo of a famous woman in her natural state is published it actually makes the news! How utterly ridiculous is that?

Below are two photos that Britney Spears herself released to show pre and post doctoring. The photo editor is dictating their view of what they think she should look like. We’re being sold a lie. If the media is being told to clean up its act, maybe they should take this into account too?

Brave move: Britney Spears has allowed airbrushed images from her shoot to be released along with the original raw photos which show all her imperfections               Brave move: Britney Spears has allowed airbrushed images from her shoot to be released along with the original raw photos which show all her imperfections


There are so many reasons why this is bad, here’s one:

Leah Hardy, Former Cosmopolitan editor, has admitted that she airbrushed anorexic models to look less unwell, but kept their extreme thinness. The result was pictures of women with no body fat who still seemed to be healthy, strong and feminine.

“They had 22-inch waists (those were never made bigger), but they also had breasts and great skin,” she told the Daily Mail. “They had teeny tiny ankles and thin thighs, but they still had luscious hair and full cheeks. Thanks to retouching, our readers never saw the horrible, hungry downside of skinny. The models’ skeletal bodies, dull, thinning hair, spots and dark circles under their eyes were magicked away by technology … A vision of perfection that simply didn’t exist.” (

Would Banning Airbrushing Help Combat Femageism?

I was asked recently for my views on the ‘invisible middle aged woman’. What did I think could help change negative societal attitudes? As the person asking wields considerable influence I thought long and hard about my answer. There are of course a lot of things that could be done but there is one action I think could have an immediate impact.

Every time a photo is published in the media that has been altered from the original (like the gorgeous Fern Britten who recently appeared on the cover of a best selling magazine having been so thoroughly airbrushed that I didn’t recognise her; ludicrous as she has been appearing on prime time TV in all her mature womanly glory), it should have a health warning stamped on the bottom saying:

‘This photo has been doctored in the editing stage and is not an accurate representation’.

Actually I’d really like it to say:

‘This photo has been doctored to show a false image of womanhood, one the advertisers prefer as it means they get to sell more cosmetics, promote slimming clubs etc. This misrepresetation of what real women, including mature women, look like is a significant part of a sexist culture which leads to surveys by Institute of Leadership and Management concluding that one reason women don’t progress into senior posts is a lack of confidence. Plus false female foto syndrome (FFFS just made that up!) contributes to a culture of gender discrimination which has a direct impact on women being under represented at all levels in society!’

But that just might be a step too far so I’ll settle for a short honest disclaimer on a dishonest photo, yes, even on Page Three!

What do you think?

Thinking of expanding your training business? I can help you. To find out more, click here.

The source for these photos was The Daily Mail



Posted on December 6th, 2012 by

3 Responses to “Should Airbrushed Women Be Allowed?”

  1. I think it’s okay to airbrush photos because realistically speaking, we’re seeing them in magazines and advertisements where we want an idealized version of ourselves. The “real women” campaigns should stick with naturals, yes, but I like to think of models as canvases as opposed to role models.

    I like the idea of a disclaimer. Even in small text I think it would really provoke a change in social attitudes 🙂

  2. Adam Jacobs says:

    These photos are indeed ridiculous, but I think they’re just part of a much wider problem, which is that adverts are frequently dishonest in so many ways. Airbrushed photos are just one way.

    Should we ban them?

    No. We already have some sort of pretence at regulating adverts via the ASA, which manifestly doesn’t work. I think this gives us the worst of both worlds: people are led to believe that there’s some kind of regulation which keeps advertisers honest, when in reality there isn’t.

    My preferred solution would be to get rid of the ASA altogether, and just have a public information campaign to let everyone know that adverts were unregulated and likely to be full of total BS.

Leave a Reply

Jane's Book

Paperback or Electronic copy

Free Updates
Simply fill in your details below to get regular updates in your in box. Your details will not be shared – ever.

Connect with me
facebook twitter google+ linkedin RSS