CVS Pharmacy has made a huge commitment to the body positivity movement this week, vowing to ban photo manipulation on any beauty advertisements. The retail brand will start this year with its store-branded makeup and beauty products, and it’s putting pressure on outside brands the store carries to make the same commitment.
"As a woman, mother and president of a retail business whose customers predominantly are women, I realize we have a responsibility to think about the messages we send to the customers we reach each day," said Helena Foulkes, president of CVS Pharmacy, in a statement. "The connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, especially in girls and young women, has been established. As a purpose-led company, we strive to do our best to assure all of the messages we are sending to our customers reflect our purpose of helping people on their path to better health."
Non-retouched images will carry the “CVS Beauty Mark” watermark, both on packaging and across the websites and social media. On the flip side, any makeup or beauty brand carried in CVS Pharmacies that still uses Photoshop, airbrushing, or other manipulation techniques will require a warning label stating that the images are digitally modified.
“We've reached out to many of our beauty brand partners, many of whom are already thinking about this important issue, to work together to ensure that the beauty aisle is a place that represents and celebrates the authenticity and diversity of the communities we serve," Foulkes said.
And CVS Pharmacies carries some massive names in the beauty industry, from Revlon, CoverGirl, NYX Cosmetics, and Maybelline, to Olay, Neutrogena, and Clearasil.
CVS has laid down a challenge for beauty brands. Let’s see which will make the same vows.
Unfortunately, there’s a long, long history of harmful photo-manipulation in the beauty industry, from magazines making models look thinner, to removing blemishes and even beauty marks and freckles, to lightening skin tone. The American Medical Association has even taken a stance against digital retouching, stating that it can contribute to low self esteem, eating disorders, and other medical and emotional issues. Thirty-three percent of high school girls suffer from disordered eating; 78 percent of 17-year-old girls are “unhappy” with their bodies.
Still, many companies and brands still do it.
As I have made clear so often in the past with every fiber of my being, I embrace my natural heritage and despite having grown up thinking light skin and straight, silky hair were the standards of beauty, I now know that my dark skin and kinky, coily hair are beautiful too. Being featured on the cover of a magazine fulfills me as it is an opportunity to show other dark, kinky-haired people, and particularly our children, that they are beautiful just the way they are. I am disappointed that @graziauk invited me to be on their cover and then edited out and smoothed my hair to fit their notion of what beautiful hair looks like. Had I been consulted, I would have explained that I cannot support or condone the omission of what is my native heritage with the intention that they appreciate that there is still a very long way to go to combat the unconscious prejudice against black women's complexion, hair style and texture. #dtmh
“Being featured on the cover of a magazine fulfills me as it is an opportunity to show other dark, kinky-haired people, and particularly our children, that they are beautiful just the way they are,” Nyong’o wrote. “I am disappointed that @graziauk invited me to be on their cover and then edited out and smoothed my hair to fit their notion of what beautiful hair looks like.”
Solange Knowles faced the same issue with her hair on Britain’s ES Magazine. Ashley Graham has often had to share un-retouched photos to show how magazines altered her appearance. Emily Ratajkowski called out another magazine for altering her breasts and lips to look bigger.
Everyone is uniquely beautiful in their own ways. We all have insecurities about the things that make us different from a typical ideal of beauty. I, like so many of us, try every day to work past those insecurities. I was extremely disappointed to see my lips and breasts altered in photoshop on this cover. I hope the fashion industry will finally learn to stop trying to stifle the things that make us unique and instead begin to celebrate individuality.
Net-a-Porter found itself in boiling hot water when it accidentally released a photo with re-touching notes on it, showing places to “please slim.” Yikes.
CVS isn’t the first company to pledge to stop using Photoshop and other harmful image-altering. but it is unique in its reach, able to influence dozens of brands. Modcloth has vowed not to change the “shape, size, proportion, color and/or remove/ehance the physical features” of the women in its ads via Photoshop. Lingerie and swim brand Aerie features un-retouched advertisements. ASOS swimsuit ads do not use photo manipulation.
CVS and these other brands that have taken a stand against re-touching are super encouraging for the future, though we still have a long way to go. Come on, beauty brands, let's make this happen!