Julia Roberts Ad Banned in the UK for Abuse of Photoshop
By Brennon Slattery
There’s airbrushing … and then there’s airbrushing. And while using post production techniques such as Photoshop image editing software is standard in the advertising industry, L’Oreal clocked some serious overtime on Julia Roberts’ face in a Lancôme ad, and now that image has been pulled by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ASA declared that “the ad must not appear in its current form again” on the basis that it’s “misleading.”
“Misleading” isn’t strong enough a word. Take a look at this image. Then take a look at another picture of Julia Roberts’ face. I think the terms “ghostly” and “surreal” are more fitting.
L’Oreal also had another of its ads pulled by the ASA; this one for its Maybelline line of cosmetics and its use of otherworldly alteration on the model Christy Turlington.
The effort to eliminate “overly perfected and unrealistic images” of women in adverts is led by Scottish Liberal Democrat and Member of Parliament Jo Swinson, who has been fighting the deification of unobtainable beauty since 2009, according to TheGuardian. But segments of Swinson and the ASA’s campaign and research were blindsided by — wait for it — narcissism. Neither the ASA nor Swinson were allowed to compare Lancôme’s final product with pre-production images of Julia Roberts due to a clause in Roberts’ contract stating that no one can see unaltered photographs of the actress.
“It shows just how ridiculous things have become when there is such fear over an unairbrushed photo that even the advertising regulator isn’t permitted to see it,” Swinson told The Guardian.
Of course, there are worse — and far more ridiculous — ways to abuse Photoshop, like Microsoft replacing a black man’s head with that of a white man, or the Iranian government’s Photoshop foible of digitally adding missiles to a photograph of a weapons test. But still — it’s great that someone is keeping an eye on ridiculously altered advertisements that make beautiful people into ghoulish impossibilities.
There’s a quote that goes: “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone.” Neither Julia Roberts nor Christy Turlington could be considered “ugly” — but that’s another story for the slippery folks in L’Oreal’s ad department.