I don't really thinking knowing they're airbrushed is enough. In a way it is worse that we're saying to people, 'no, you will never look good enough. Don't even expect to be happy with the way you look, you will only look good in a photo with airbrush, never in real life'.
I know a woman who got married round about when I did and we were looking at each other's wedding pics. She is a very attractive woman, model figure, etc. She got a professional photographer to take shoots that look like something out of Vogue and I commented on how stunning they were. She replied in a very matter-of-fact way 'yes, it was really worth it, he airbrushed them and touched them up so they look good'. I just couldn't believe it - she felt she needed that to look 'good', on her wedding day, as a really beautiful woman.
I find it disturbing because it seems to move back to women-as-objects if we're encouraged to think we'll only look good in pictures.
Off- topic, I know, so sorry, but if we're talking about Jo Swinson, Lib Dem MP with a Scottish constituency, she voted in favour of the increased tuition fees for English university students and therefore holds some responsibilty for young people (not her Scottish constituents) accruing huge debt before starting their careers. And her office sent out a slightly snippy standard email to those of us who registered our disappointment at her choice! She is a rising star of the Lib Dems and until that point seemed one of the better MPs - but she wants to rise through the ranks, I guess. I've seen her around, seems nice and thought she might take as stand as some of her Lib Dem colleagues did. Shame.
Ads- It's sad that knowing they are airbrushed doesn't stop them having a powerful visual impact on people in terms of positively responding to the model's appearance. Airbrushing is one only of the problems with them. I read somewhere that a Twiggy ad was also banned a while ago - maybe it's just the ones with women over 40 that merit action - 'hey, no way can that old woman look that young!' as if any models look that 'good' in RL.
I want to see the same woman, shot in the same light, with one side of her face having the thing (mascara, foundation, lipstick) and one side not. That would persuade me that your foundation would make me look as if I were lit with an inner light.
I don't know that I mind 'aspirational' ads - but some of them take the piss. I'm thumbing through back issues of Vogue atm (it's ok, I handed it my feminist badge a few hours ago - actually I'm looking for pictures to take to the hairdresser so she knows what colour to dye me), and there's a brilliant pic of Vivienne Westwood modelling her own accessories line - it may well be airbrushed but the lines are there and she's not ridiculously slim or identikit-looking. And the ads obviously work fine or she wouldn't keep making money!
It might raise a few feminist issues but to me, the central point here is that by airbrushing in an advert for cosmetics or skincare they are basically lying. I know there's a lot of misleading stuff in advertising but blatant untruths are just not on. At least I thought they weren't. (Not that I actually believe adverts or would ever be fooled into believing any product could turn me into Julia Roberts, but still...) Airbrushing, say, a woman's cellulite when she's advertising a swimming costume may be offensive for different reasons, but it isn't lying about the product itself. But if it was an anti-cellulite cream being advertised and they said "see, all the cellulite has gone" but it hadn't really, that would rightly be jumped on. At least I bloody well hope it would.