Will the Anti-Photoshop Movement in Retail Catch On?

John Scott
Posted by

In the past several years, many consumers have expressed growing concern over the way that images are edited. In response to heavily retouched photos, an anti-Photoshop movement is gaining strength. For professionals in the retail industry, the movement has significant implications, whether or not it catches on.

For years, consumers have been aware that magazines and advertisers frequently retouch portraits using Photoshop. Proponents of the practice in the retail industry argue that it creates a fantasy for consumers, giving them something to aspire to.

Recently, however, consumers have begun paying more attention to the amount of editing that goes into photos before publication. In late 2013, before and after photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence surfaced on the Internet. The photos, which were taken for a "Flare" cover shoot, were heavily edited. Readers and fans were outraged and took to the Internet en masse to protest and complain about the edits. Recently, the actress was the subject of another heavy-handed Photoshop job in a Dior ad, which Be Well Philly called a "Photoshop fail."

The outrage over Photoshopped photos has been growing steadily over the past several years. In 2011, MailOnline published a piece with multiple images that were edited overzealously. In one, actress Kristen Stewart appears to be missing part of an arm; in another, the famously voluptuous singer Beyoncé shows off thighs that have been dramatically slimmed down.

Consumers' anger over the unrealistic photo editing in the retail industry, publishing industry, and advertising industry has converged into an anti-Photoshop movement. The website Jezebel has been a vocal participant in the movement, frequently publishing articles that condemn overly edited photos. Dove, which produces personal care products, has vocalized its support with its "Real Beauty" campaign. Reality television star Kim Kardashian also spoke up after a magazine Photoshopped her images.

Some companies have responded proactively to the movement by changing their models. A notable example is the British retailer Debenhams, which made waves by banning airbrushing and hiring a diverse cast of models. Customers responded positively to the models, which included disabled women, plus-size women, and models over forty. The American Eagle sister store, Aerie, followed suit, promoting the anti-Photoshop movement in its latest "Aerie Real" advertising campaign.

The involvement of major companies such as Dove and Debenhams signifies that the anti-Photoshop movement is unlikely to go away. As a result, professionals in the retail industry may experience serious ramifications for the overuse of Photoshop. Photoshopped photos in the media worry consumers, largely because they help create an unattainable beauty standard. According to The Center for Eating Disorders, heavily edited images have helped to skew the public impression of ideal beauty; they have also been blamed for contributing to negative body image, eating disorders, and preoccupation with weight, particularly among young girls. Companies in the ever-growing retail industry that are found guilty of over-editing may risk losing business.

For professionals in the retail industry, the anti-Photoshop movement is an important trend to watch. As consumers become more informed and aware, businesses run the risk of public humiliation if they unrealistically edit photos.


(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch