I recently wrote an article about airbrushing in the media and the unhealthy body image such doctored pictures promote for women. Now the U.K’s Advertising Standards Authority has taken a hardline, banning product ads of Julia Roberts for Lancome and Christy Turlington for Maybeline (both companies falling under the umbrella of L’Oreal). Check out the ads here, along with L’Oreal’s “justifications.” Member of Parliament Jo Swinson stated that the “adverts were not representative of the results the products could achieve.” In addition to L’Oreal’s mispresenting of the products, Swinson expressed her concern that such ads could lead to body image problems.
Entertainment Weekly did obtain a telling comment from Sharon A. Blinkoff, an attorney with Venable LLP who’s represented clients in the cosmetic industry for more than 20 years and sits on the board of directors of the Independent Cosmetics Manufacturers Association, giving her opinion that the United States Trade Commission wouldn’t have granted similar consumer protection:
“Under U.S. law, the question becomes whether a consumer acting reasonably would be in some way misled and believe that the product would do things that it doesn’t in fact do. I think consumers are used to cosmetic companies taking some creative license with their presentation and generally know what foundation products do and what they don’t do. Our regulatory agencies recognize the ‘sophistication’ of the American consumer…There’s also the notion that these are not very high-ticket items: consumers can judge for themselves whether they’re satisfied, and if they’re not satisfied, they won’t buy it again…. Even the lighting that you use when you take a photo of a model will sometimes change the appearance. Are we now gonna say everybody has to be put under standard lighting, so that we make sure that there’s no deviation? Instead of having beauty shots, we’ll have mug shots. Consumers like the aspirational characteristics of these photographs. They know that they’re not gonna become a Julia Roberts.” Continue reading