Is anyone genuinely surprised by this recent L’Oreal Feria/Beyonce skin lightening advertising drama? I wasn’t. Not at all. This has happened to Beyonce before, after all. And I don’t get why so many people are blaming Beyonce — do celebrities get final approval on how they look in advertising? I’m inclined to think not, given everything I’ve read about stars getting upset about how their appearance was altered for print. Beyonce’s not a Photoshop pro who touches up her own pics. Just about every image you see in a magazine has been digitally retouched by a angel somewhere along the line.
Lighting is artfully manipulated to soften harsh lines or to brighten up skin tone. Colors are lightened or saturated to become more vibrant. Bodies are digitally altered to appear more svelte. Cosmetics advertisements are probably the worst offenders — the deception begins before the photographs are really taken. You didn’t believe that the eyelashes celebrities bat at the screen in just about any mascara ad on TV were real, did you? All fake, sad to say.
I guess I’m just jaded by the practice, and I don’t think it’s going to change. I see a photo like this Feria ad, where Bey is practically unrecognizable, and it makes me angry. Of course it does. But then my analytical side kicks in. Call me cynical, but I just see this as one of those cyclical beauty industry sins that only become controversial when it’s glaringly obvious. Respect to Jezebel and Racialicious for wading so deep into the issue, because sometimes I’m like — oh no, not again.
In order to effectively make a statement to the advertising industry that hey — Photoshopping in your skewed, ethnically exclusive perspective of beauty is not cool — consumers have to get to the point where they’re so angry that they boycott the brand, the magazines, everything. That never happens. A comment on that Racialicious thread summed it all up pretty well, IMO — Black Canseco, an industry insider who has a pretty cool blog of his own put the Photoshop whitewashing issue like this: “Itâ€™s simply part of the business; and the business does it because it sells; and it sells because the masses of folks prefer it/are comfortable with it/believe this is how it should be.
So now what?”
Exactly. Does this kind of thing make you outraged? Do you believe consumers have the power to alter industry-wide practices? I’d love to hear from you all on this issue. Now what, indeed?