ASOS’s Unretouched Photos Break the Internet

The internet has once again blown up over the issue of photoshopping. But this time, it’s not what you think. Images from the British online fashion retailer ASOS appeared recently showing models with acne scars and stretch marks.

The no-filter style campaign, which has gone viral, is even more notable for the fact that they are part of a swimsuit campaign, an area of retail that is notorious for its history of appealing to the male gaze rather than actual female customers.

The debate over retouching fashion photos is hardly new. Activists and celebrities alike have been speaking out against what they view as rampant retouching that creates an unattainable beauty standard.

Despite these protests, however, there has been very little progress. That is why ASOS’s new photographs have caused such a sensation across the internet.

Another Twitter user posted:

Acne scars are a pervasive issue that millions of Americans suffer from. While this ailment might seems small to those who don’t struggle with it on a daily basis, those living with these disfiguring marks can attest to how strongly they impact your life.

Almost 85% of people experience acne during their lifetime, but deep scars only occur for some. These scars are the result of overly aggressive treatment of acne or particularly bad breakouts (Ever wonder why your mom chided you not to pick at it?). The result can be a lifetime of very visible scars that makeup can’t quite cover.

Personal appearance has become increasingly important, both to your own confidence and in shaping the way you interact with society as a whole. This in turn has become a major industry. Take for instance the booming market that targets the 35 million men in the U.S. suffering from hair loss. There are some surgical procedures that can address acnes scars, but those are often invasive or expensive.

The ASOS campaign is only one part of a larger conversation. As mentioned above, there have been concerns for years about the way that advertisers use photo retouching, particularly in regards to slimming down their models’ waistlines.

Critics have argued that this puts enormous pressure on young women to conform to a weight and size that is not physically possible for everyone. At its most basic, it is seen as a contributing factor to why most American dieters make four separate weight loss attempts each year. At worst, opponents argue that they feed into the growing number of young women who suffer from eating disorders.

There have been other recent high profile examples of women pushing back against the use of photoshop, such as when the cast of HBO’s Girls posed on the cover of Glamour without any retouching. But a major clothing brand taking such a public stance is still rare.

Whether or not the trend will continue, we’ll have to wait and see.

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