Last year, CVS launched a campaign that created new standards for beauty ads in their stores. The changes included eliminating airbrushing and other digital modifications. The company also unveiled the CVS Beauty Mark, a watermark on ads that confirms that images aren’t digitally altered or retouched to modify or enhance a person’s shape, size, proportion, skin or eye color, wrinkles or other characteristics.
In addition, CVS has asked the beauty brands they sell to adapt to these regulations by 2020. The initial campaign was followed by Beauty in Real Life, which used an assortment of women from across the country in unretouched print and video images.
The company’s brands have also responded. By February, 70 percent of the CVS's beauty ads will be unretouched. CoverGirl, Neutrogena, and Revlon have all pledged to update their images to show unretouched spokesmodels, such as Neutrogena spokesperson Kerry Washington and Revlon spokespeople Ashley Graham and Gal Gadot.
According to CVS CMO Norman de Greve, the message is long overdue since photoshopping is like “saying these beautiful women aren’t beautiful enough." The company has also taken into account that retouched ads impact women's mental health.
“Being exposed to media images moves someone to internalize that as ideal,” says psychologist Rachel Rodgers, Ph.D., who studies the influence of media on body image. “Images are created with certain intent. The dangerous thing is that people process images automatically, and comparison is a part of that.”
Despite its good intentions, the initiative had to be supported by the spokesmodels themselves. "It’s just something I had to dive into and hope I liked the outcome," chef and CoverGirl spokesperson Ayesha Curry told Glamour. "I’m a new mom again. Having the pregnancy weight on, and my nursing schedule…getting through that was honestly a moment of strength for me."
Curry, however, didn’t obsess over the lack of Photoshop. The night before the shoot, she went out for drinks with friends. "The next morning, I was like, Ooh, was that the right decision? Can you see the whiskey sours in my eyes?" she recalls. Luckily, she knew CoverGirl was on her side. "They don’t expect or need me to be 'that girl,'" Curry says.
Avoiding digital modifications also gives customers a clearer idea of how products, such as foundation or lip stain, look. According to Curry, the campaign reflects her day to day life. "In this case, I'm wearing the exact product I have on now. It’s the Outlast All-Day Lip Color." Curry says she’s inspired by her mom, whose look and style she tries to emulate. Curry is very proud with how the campaign turned out, and she’s glad to have been able to pave the way for other women.
CVS is committed to its 2020 objective and brands like Almay, Aveeno, Rimmel, Joah, L’Oréal, Maybelline, Unilever, Burt’s Bees, and Physicians Formula have pledged to reach the goal of "full beauty imagery transparency." Therefore, consumers can expect these brands’ in-store imagery, marketing photos and social media posts to reflect CVS Beauty Mark standards by next year.