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Real Beauty Doesn’t Need Retouching, But How Do We Really Make Change?

This is the "beautify" action retouchers thought they were getting.

This is the “beautify” action retouchers thought they were getting.

FBG Kristen sent me a pretty powerful video of the Real Beauty campaign Dove was doing in Canada, and I’ve wanted to share it for weeks. But, I wasn’t exactly sure what to say about it. Part of me wants to cheer, high-five and chest-bump every female on the planet about it. And the other part of me? Well, it’s just not sure.

Here’s the video … (And if you can’t watch it, here’s the abridged text version: Dove created a Photoshop action that changes edited photos back to their original state, along with the message “Don’t manipulate our perceptions of Real Beauty.”)

It’s kind of awesome, right? Like, ha! Gotcha! No retouching here because we’re all beautiful and wonderful as we are!

Which is true, but I know lots of art directors and graphic designers who are really good, confident and body-image boosting people. Being tricked to download an action called “Beautify” and then putting your (albeit awesome) message in there seems … I don’t know. Unfair.

The whole concept is amazing — and I’m all for bringing more awareness to issues of positive body image and confidence. But, maybe, just maybe, it feels good to point the finger because we don’t want to take responsibility ourselves. I mean, can we really point blame at just one group of people for the rampant airbrushing we see everywhere? Isn’t it their bosses who are more responsible? The CEOs and people funding projects?

Aren’t, actually, we to blame as well? If we stop buying the airbrushed magazines and products that feature heavily Photoshopped models and start being more vocal with companies, things will change a whole lot faster than a Photoshop action, methinks. Every time we buy something it’s like voting. So how are we really using our power?

I guess, for me, it just feels kinda wrong to shame someone for shaming others. Shame and blame never generate quite as much sustained and real change as does discussion, education and community action.

I’d love to know what YOU think. Do you think this video is awesome? Or do you think it just passes the buck? Nothing like a good “does the end justify the means?” discussion on a Monday! —Jenn

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