Jameela Jamil’s war on air­brush­ing

The Guardian - G2 - - News - Re­becca Ni­chol­son

Af­ter wish­ing pub­lic di­ar­rhoea upon celebrities such as Cardi B for push­ing “de­tox” teas on In­sta­gram, The Good Place ac­tor Jameela Jamil has turned her dis­dain to­wards air­brush­ing. “I think it’s a dis­gust­ing tool that has been weaponised, pre­dom­i­nantly against women,” she wrote as part of the BBC’s

100 Women se­ries, calling for it to banned.

While it would be a shame to lose the plea­sure of be­fore/af­ter gifs, in which a fa­mous beauty loses her added lay­ers of per­fec­tion like a snake shed­ding its skin, I sus­pect there will be a time in the near fu­ture when it is seen as baf­fling that air­brushed im­ages, the kind that look more like wa­ter­colours than pho­to­graphs, were ever con­sid­ered ac­cept­able. Although most of us can tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween the ma­nip­u­lated faces and bod­ies of ad­verts – smoother than an egg, shinier than satin – re­search has shown that be­ing able to do so doesn’t make much dif­fer­ence to women’s self-es­teem. One study sug­gested that its sam­ple of women not only felt bad about them­selves for not liv­ing up to an im­age that they knew was al­tered, but were also crit­i­cal of it as a re­sult. (It’s #no­tall­women, of course, but look at any list of Hol­ly­wood’s best-paid ac­tors and it’s ap­par­ent that a few stray greys are not quite the same ob­sta­cle to suc­cess for men.)

Re­touch­ing apps are now so com­mon that a so­cial-me­dia feed can look like a col­lec­tive ad for mir­a­cle foun­da­tion – the trick­le­down ef­fect has clearly hap­pened. But, if it is not al­ready too late, is there a so­lu­tion? Should we make like the Lib Dems in 2009 and push for air­brush­ing to be banned for good? In the US, the phar­macy chain CVS in­tro­duced a badge-of-hon­ourstyle “Beauty Mark” to high­light im­ages in its ads with­out sig­nif­i­cant re­touch­ing; it plans to phase out air­brush­ing in all its mar­ket­ing ma­te­rial by 2020. Bad news for eye­bags, but good news for stamp­ing out im­ages so unattain­able that even the peo­ple who look like that don’t ac­tu­ally look like that.

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