The recent announcement by DOLLY magazine that their June issue will be free from airbrushing, has again highlighted the camera tricks and post-production measures used in fashion shoots by magazines. For decades women and girls have been comparing themselves unfavourably to these images at the expense of their self-esteem – and until now, magazines have been reluctant to accept any responsibility.
Although women are becoming more aware of the tricks used by beauty and fashion magazines, the sheer number of these unrealistic images in the media, is enough to make even the most dedicated fashionista, feel ugly by comparison. But now the tide appears to be turning towards a broader, more realistic definition of beauty.
Earlier this month, the editor of DOLLY magazine, Gemma Crisp said: “Negative body image is at an all-time high in Australia and many people are blaming the media for using unrealistic, air-brushed images where so-called “flaws” like scars and pimples are nowhere to be seen. To combat the pressure placed on young girls to look a particular way, we decided to ditch the airbrushing to show teenage girls the reality of what they’re constantly comparing themselves to.”
The push towards presenting more realistic images of women in the media began in 2006 when Unilever launched the Dove Campaign For Real Beauty. Click through to the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty website and you’ll see images of middle aged women presented as visions of beauty.
One of the original creators of the campaign, former CEO of Unilever’s skincare division, John Replogle, told Australia Women Online last year, “Only two to three percent of women worldwide consider themselves ‘beautiful’ and we just thought that was wrong,” he said. “We also learned that a woman’s self-esteem was lower after reading a beauty magazine rather than higher, so we set out to do something about it.”
“That campaign was widely imitated and we were delighted with that because we felt that we had created a foundation for movement in the industry and it certainly resonated with women who frankly, come in all shapes and sizes, and regardless, they ought to feel beautiful about themselves,” he said.
The father of four daughters, John Replogle was also instrumental in the establishment of the Dove Self-Esteem Fund which raises awareness of the link between beauty and body related self-esteem and funds programs that raise self-esteem in girls and young women.
Locally, Dove has been working since 2006 with The Butterfly Foundation to implement its BodyThink program in schools, designed to increase media literacy and boost self esteem in 11-14 year olds, and has to date educated over 50,000 young people nationwide with this pioneering teaching tool.
Lauren Nye from Dove applauded the move by Dolly magazine to publish an issue free of airbrushing. “We know from research that 75% of global and 78% of Australian respondents, strongly agree that they wished the media did a better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness, age, shape, and size, therefore we applaud the step taken by Dolly magazine with the launch of its airbrush free issue.”
“Currently 66% of girls aged 10-14 would like to change something about their appearance, with only 16% of girls thinking they look good. Given these statistics it’s not surprising that many girls develop low self esteem and, consequently, fail to reach their full potential later in life, ” she said.
In the tradition of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, DOLLY magazine have launched the “Heart Your Body” campaign to let girls know that friendship, happiness and confidence are more important than the way they look.
Although it remains to be seen whether the campaigns created by Dove and Dolly will have any lasting effect on the ways in which women and girls are portrayed in the media, as consumers it is within our power to decide for ourselves what is beauty.
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Photo credit: Main photo provided by the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty