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In the days of Pin-Up Girls, artists would render upgraded versions of the models based on photographs to achieve the look every woman wanted at the time. This is an old tradition and a false reality that we have accepted and become comfortably numb to in mass marketing for quite some time. We’re always told not to believe everything we read. In a digital age where reality is so easily skewed by a simple box of tools inside Photoshop, it seems that the next step is to stop believing everything we see.

A recent CoverGirl ad (seen below) featuring Taylor Swift was pulled from the shelves after The National Advertising Division (NAD); an industry watchdog extension of the Better Business Bureau that focuses on self-regulation towards advertising; pointed out that the artist’s eyelashes had been enhanced and was misleading, regardless of the disclaimer that you can very visibly see in the corner of the ad stating “Lashes Enhanced in Post Production.”

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(Photo Source: http://thegirlinthemiddle.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/whats-the-point/)

As a result of NAD’s protest, Proctor & Gamble (NYSE:PG) has agreed to stop running the ad campaign (for their product NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara). This is the latest in a steady US movement that international advertising regulators have initiated to completely ban the use of Photoshop to ensure that consumers aren’t fooled by a clear case of false advertising. The NAD Ruling in the case stated the following:“… [P&G] advised NAD it has permanently discontinued all of the challenged claims and the photograph in its advertisement. NAD was particularly troubled by the photograph of the model – which serves clearly to demonstrate (i.e., let consumers see for themselves) the length and volume they can achieve when they apply the advertised mascara to their eyelashes. This picture is accompanied by a disclosure that the model’s eyelashes had been enhanced post production.”

When asked about the validity of the ban based on the fact that the ad has a clear disclaimer on it, NAD director Andrea Levine stated:“You can’t use a photograph to demonstrate how a cosmetic will look after it is applied to a woman’s face and then – in the mice type – have a disclosure that says ‘okay, not really.”

The NAD has also recently followed up on their UK sister, The Advertising Standards Authority on a case in which they banned a Cosmetics ad featuring Julia Roberts & Christy Turlington for their overuse of Photoshop, Ruling the photo misleading.

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(Photo Source: CBS News)

The NAD was quoted in the Roberts/Turlington case saying:

“… the picture of Ms. Roberts had been altered using post production techniques (in addition to professional styling, make-up, photography and the product’s inherent covering and smoothing nature which are to be expected), exaggerating what consumers could expect to achieve through product use…Advertising self-regulatory authorities recognize the need to avoid photoshopping in cosmetics advertisements where there is a clear exaggeration of potential product benefits.”

The question is where is the line drawn for any form of advertising, whether it is film, TV, or print without compromising artistic integrity? “Post Production” is something that complements the digital age of art & advertising like peanut butter to jelly. Imagine opening a magazine or blog and seeing the real Kim Kardashian instead of touched-up and revised version 2.0. Imagine going to McDonalds and seeing the menu filled with pictures of what you actually get in the bag, instead of the perfectly pinned together, mocked versions of the food that you see glowing above you now.

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With Eating Disorders increasing for children and teens and unreachable standards being set, hopefully new buzz and regulation reverses a lot of the negative body images in youth’s culture today. We’ve seen strong movements recently in natural foods and sustainable energy; maybe an emerging trend is a new form of natural advertising bringing a new, honest, respectful level of post production in mass media.