I won’t ask how many of you ever wondered how much the Playboy centerfolds were airbrushed, but I bet you have wondered if you could ever look like those airbrushed, drop-dead models in all of those personal care ads.

Let me put your mind at rest, by telling you, “No you can’t, at least not without a lot of money.”

In the Untied States, no one seems to care a lot about those models in magazines and on television.  But in England some recent ads featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington were banned because they “breached the advertising standards for exaggeration and being misleading.”

What’s also interesting is that L’Oreal refused to let people see the pre-manipulated photographs of Roberts.

Of course, in the United States there are different standards for what is acceptable.  The Federal Trade Commission uses something called “false, deceptive and unfair” when deciding which ads are appropriate.  On the surface those three descriptors seem pretty clear-cut. But the F-T-C, and the courts, have added another layer called “puffery,” which says that no one really believes the ads anyway, so what’s the harm?

In other words, the ad has to be either absolutely accurate, or so outlandish that one could possibly believe the ad content is true.

But back to the airbrushing.

It’s not just human models that are manipulated.  Look at food ads.  That hamburger sandwich with the leafy lettuce, the just-so drops of water and the perfect dollop of sauce probably took several hours to prepare, and then several more hours of digital enhancement.

You know, of course, that movies use all sorts of digital tricks, usually under the title of Computer-Generated Imagery, or C-G-I.  So now I have to ask, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, was Julia Roberts maybe airbrushed into all of those movies?  And if she was, would they be banned in England as well?  The possibilities boggle the mind.
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