L’Oreal rapped for airbrushed Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts ads

MPs are increasing pressure on the advertising watchdog to ban campaigns featuring airbrushed images if they are found to be ’socially irresponsible’, after two L’Oreal ads were withdrawn for using ’misleading’ images of model Christy Turlington and actress Julia Roberts.

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled the ads for the L’Oreal owned Maybelline and Lancome make-up brands should not run in future after receiving complaints from Jo Swinson MP.

Swinson was acting on behalf of the anti-airbrushing ’Campaign for Body Confidence’, which she co-founded last year with fellow Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, who has since become equalities minister.

The ASA agreed with Swinson that both ads misled consumers on the effects of the foundation make-up products they were promoting because the images of Turlington, for Maybelline, and Roberts, for Lancome, had been ’digitally manipulated’.

“This ruling demonstrates that the advertising regulator is acknowledging the dishonest and misleading nature of excessive retouching,” says Swinson.

“Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm, but both Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts are naturally beautiful women who don’t need retouching to look great. This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers – let’s get back to reality,” she adds.

In its defence, L’Oreal admitted that the Maybelline ad did use “post production techniques” but the image “accurately illustrated the results the product could achieve”.

The campaign, which has broad support from experts and organsiations including feminist academic and writer Dr Susie Orbach and online community Mumsnet, has given a dossier of evidence to the ASA which it claims prove links between airbrushed ideal images of men and women and mental health disorders such as depression and anorexia, particularly among young people.

However, a spokesman for advertising rules CAP and BCAP says the evidence of a causal link has not yet been proven.

The ASA issued guidance to brands on the use of airbrushing in April. L’Oreal has had previous ads banned for airbrushing including a 2007 campaign starring Penelope Cruz.

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