Retouched photography is so widespread that it really has become our visual norm. We open up a glossy fashion magazine, we know that what we see isn't real, but most of the time we just flip the pages and don't give it a second thought.
However, these images have a very real impact on our perception of beauty and self-worth. A recent global survey from Havas Worldwide indicates that more and more consumers are experiencing "beauty fatigue". Over 69% of respondents said the world would be a happier place if we weren’t so obsessed with physical beauty.
When asked about the effects of celebrity culture, 79% of respondents stated that Photoshopping celebrities to make them appear thinner or "perfect" is "harming society" and 73% of respondents said it worries them that beauty is more highly valued than what is "in our hearts and minds."
This survey reflects a global change in the conversation surrounding beauty and body image that started over a decade ago. In 2006, Dove was one of the first brands to open up a conversation about "real beauty" and expose the digital manipulation of the beauty industry on a large scale. Their short film (below) went viral only a year after YouTube was launched and began a global conversation about digital manipulation, body image, and unrealistic beauty standards that continues to gain momentum.
In recent years, brands such as Aerie have sworn off of photoshopping their models, campaigns focused on seeing the beauty in real women have become almost commonplace, celebrities (including Kate Winslet, pictured above) are sounding off against magazines who alter their images, and fashion houses are increasingly featuring non-traditional models on their catwalks.
While the conversation is certainly changing, the beauty battle has not yet been won. Social media places intense pressure on young people to publish perfect images of their lives, to cover up the blemishes with makeup and filters and lighting. Rates of anxiety and mental illness are increasing, especially among young women, and these have been directly linked to the pressures of social media.
At Signal Hill, we are shifting cultural attitudes by helping young people realize and embrace their true value. Through our Empowering Life Series presentations we lead young people to critically examine media messages and develop character-based decision making skills. Visit our presentations page to find out more about our life changing workshops.