The absence of airbrushing
June 2010

Debenhams has taken the first step into the unknown by launching a marketing campaign using images that have not been digitally enhanced.

The campaign is perfectly timed to match the current and growing criticism of the practice of airbrushing. In recent times we have seen an increase in the numbers of celebrities e.g. Madonna, Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears who have recetnly appeared in the media 'au natural' .  View Britney Spears

From the celebrity world, the trend has now filtered down to the High Street, using the caption "We've not messed with natural beauty; this image is un-airbrushed. What do you think?"

The Debenham's campaign show 3 photos of a bikini-clad models, the original image, the retouched version and a central picture showing the 'flaws' that would in general be airbrushed out.  The corrected 'flaws' included slimmed and toned arms, thighs and waist, perfect hair, spotless skin and a bigger bust.

This does give rise to the question, 'is the general public ready to see "real" pictures rather than those that are impossible to achieve without the use of digital manipulation.

The "before and after" pictures will be introduced into stores around the country over the next few weeks,. It will be interesting to see if there introduction influences how retailers use images in the future.

Jo Swinson, a Liberal Democrat MP and co-founder of the Campaign for Body Confidence, said: "More and more people are realising that airbrushing and other trickery are not necessary in order for women to look beautiful".

The Debenhams experiment may be considered brave, but it is unlikely to be ground braking. I suspect, in the short term at least, that the camera will continue to lie.