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Should Airbrushing Be Banned in Beauty Ads?

Beauty advertisements are meant to show us the ideals in order for us to buy the product they are selling- but how far is too far. Should Photoshop in beauty ads be illegal?

We’re used to seeing offensive or sexually explicit ads come under fire, but the latest battle is over an ad campaign starring Taylor Swift—just about the last person you could call offensive or overly sexy. Instead, this CoverGirl print ad is being pulled by the National Advertising Division (NAD) for being too unrealistic.

The banned ad features a luminescent Taylor Swift with the words “2x more volume” near her heavily mascara-ed lashes. At the bottom of the ad, in print only readable with a magnifying glass, are the words “lashes enhanced in post production.” Translation: CoverGirl NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara won’t actually give you those lashes—only Photoshop will.

Though it’s well established by the NAD (an advertisement watchdog group) that advertisements must be truthful and cannot be enhanced, CoverGirl is certainly not the first beauty brand to alter images to make its products more appealing. We’ve just always looked the other way or accepted Photoshopping as standard industry practice.

But we could be entering a new era of advertising, one that commands advertisers to be more realistic and socially responsible. 2011 has been a year of crackdowns, mostly by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, which pulled  Lancome and Maybelline ads because of excessive airbrushing back in July, in addition to a Marc Jacobs ad for its graphic nature and a British clothing ad for its use of emaciated models. Now it seems that the U.S. is making an example of the CoverGirl campaign. Will 2012 be the year of more honest, responsible advertising? If so, where do we draw the line between appropriate editing and excessive digital enhancements? Would you like to see airbrushing banned altogether?

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