Drugstore Chain CVS Health to Ban Retouched Images

Drugstore Chain CVS Health to Ban Retouched Images

Drugstore chain CVS Health announced today that it will stop using photo manipulation in the promotional images for its store-brand makeup and will require all other companies to follow suit by 2020. Companies that continue to use manipulated imagery will have their adverts labeled by CVS to help customers understand that the photograph has been altered. 

This is a bold move from an influential company that could have a large knock-on effect across the beauty industry. CVS Pharmacy President Helena Foulkes explained that the decision came about as a result of increasing amounts of research that shows that manipulated images are distorting women's concept of beauty and have become "a serious driver of health issues."

Acknowledging her role as a mother and president of a business whose customer base is mostly female, Foulkes went on to explain: "The connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, especially in girls and young women, has been established."

Research from earlier this year suggests that most girls aged between 10 and 14 know that many images are manipulated but the profusion of imagery still has an impact on their mental wellbeing. They may realize that the photographs represent unrealistic aspirations but it still has an effect on the body esteem of young women. CVS Health's new policy may help to counter this impact.

CVS Health will introduce the CVS Beauty Mark, a watermark that will appear on all in-store imagery - not just its own products - to vouch for its authenticity. Any imagery that doesn't comply will be visibly labeled to make customers aware that the photograph has been manipulated, putting pressure on other companies to be more honest with their advertising. 

The CVS Health website offers some detail of what this entails:

We will not digitally alter or change a person’s shape, size, proportion, skin or eye color or enhance or alter lines, wrinkles or other individual characteristics.

For retouchers working in the beauty industry, finding the line between what is acceptable and what will be labeled as manipulation might need greater clarification.

[Via USAToday]

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60 Comments

The second image is retouched so great that you don’t notice it. And that’s the future of retouching.

How do they define "retouched"? Raw files out of camera only? Can I remove a pimple that could be covered by makeup or be gone the next day?

They did define it. Reread the article.

John Pyle's picture

Can they just come out of the stores and make sure no one takes pictures of people on railroad tracks.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Hahahahhaa

Kirk Darling's picture

I'm not in the beauty photography business--I just do portraits. But the women I photograph come out of the MUA's chair looking more like the woman on the left, not the woman on the right. I might have to deal with the wrinkles, but not the blemishes or the uneven skin tone.

Ryan Cooper's picture

The problem with a policy like this is that it will only lead to even more extreme requirements on models and instead of addressing things in photoshop there will be an increased demand for even more perfect makeup work. Its not like the image on the right reflects how that woman would look if you just met her on the street so there is still a certain degree of obfuscation compared to reality, regardless.

Richard Barcelo's picture

Totally agree! And when you think about it, what's the difference between retouched in photoshop and retouched with make-up ? It's not real anyways...

They are selling makeup, and that is why this is important. Makeup can only do so much. Retouching can remove all the wrinkles. Much more than any cream. If a woman buys some really expensive wrinkle cream and her wrinkles don't all disappear like they did in the overly retouched ad, she's going to feel ripped off. The ad was fraudulent. Ads should reflct the actual capabilities of the products, not mislead the consumers into thinking the products can do what they can't.

Tony Northrup's picture

+1 to this... though I'lll add that posing and lighting also contribute to unrealistic beauty in picture. But CVS gets a PR win because consumers blame the problem on Photoshop.

Ryan Cooper's picture

Yup, was going to mention that too as well as lens choice. Though in that case those situations are very good for skilled photographers as it allows them to expand the gap between them and photographers who lack said ability and overly depend on photoshop.

It'll put a lot of average looking models out of work.

Robert Nurse's picture

In my own experience, retouching actually brings out what I saw and felt at the time I took the shot. As you said Ryan, if I met the woman illustrated in the photo, I would probably see and feel the image on the left especially if the encounter were friendly, personable and funny. Am I crazy? (Don't answer that!)

Alex Dylikowski's picture

Finally. I think it will become a new trend now. Because every single image out there shows the same skin texture that is coming from photoshop and is not genuine.

"Foulkes went on to explain: "The connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, especially in girls and young women, has been established." "

There is absolutely nothing unrealistic about staying thin your entire life. I'm well passed middle age and I weigh what I did in high school. It's very simple, don't stuff your freakin face every time you eat. Lunatics and ignoramuses that complain about "unrealistic body images" are the ones contributing to "negative health effects" by telling people it's OK to be fat. This is more of the madness and lie of political correctness that is destroying America and Western civilization.

Ryan Cooper's picture

Well, there is a gap between thin/healthy and thin/starving to be fair. But that isn't retouching that causes that. Its why I've always preferred to work with lifestyle models instead of fashion models. I prefer to shoot models who look healthy, not ones who are so thin and pallid that they look like they are dying. I think people almost would be surprised how often photoshop is used to make dangerously thin models look healthier. (rather than the presumed norm that its always used to make women thinner)

"Well, there is a gap between thin/healthy and thin/starving to be fair."

Thin/starving? That would be emaciated. I'm not endorsing emaciation.

"But that isn't retouching that causes that."

I have no idea what you are trying to say; I addressed the promotion of fat people.

"Its why I've always preferred to work with lifestyle models instead of fashion models. I prefer to shoot models who look healthy, not ones who are so thin and pallid that they look like they are dying."

Please. Emaciated models are obviously the exception.

Andy Day's picture

I think the research that's going into this is finding that the impact of beauty images on mental health is a bit more complex than that. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/05/poor-body-image-makes-gi... Of course everyone should just cheer up and stop worrying about it, but mental health isn't quite so straightforward, unfortunately!

No sane society should fundamentally adjust its behavior and way of life towards those that are weak or sick of mind. Those suffering from mental health issues can be provided help without having to resort to such nonsense.

Andy Day's picture

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/beauty/face-body/womens-body-confidence...

If our culture is causing sickness in a large portion of society, to me it makes sense to take measures to address it. A mental illness is still an illness. We banned advertising tobacco to protect the nation's health. To me, it seems logical that action can be taken to address other issues.

You can only properly "take measures to address" any problem by not avoiding the truth. Telling fat people that being thin is unrealistic, and that they are fat through no fault of their own, is a lie and does nothing "to protect the nation's health."

Andy Day's picture

As mentioned, I think that's massively simplifying a socio-cultural phenomenon that's much more complex than that. If mental health were that simple, then we could fix it overnight.

And as I already said, no sane society should fundamentally adjust its behavior and way of life towards those that are weak or sick of mind. Those suffering from mental health issues can be provided help without having to resort to such nonsense.

Andy Day's picture

I guess we should agree to disagree given the difference in our approaches to how we think society should work, and how mental health problems manifest.

I should add: this isn't about fat people. This is about a generation of young people growing up with an unhealthy image of their own bodies that damages their confidence, and consequently their capacity to work, their ability to socialise, and ultimately to live happy, fulfilling lives.

Genetics and hormones play a large role. I'd bet everything I own that there are people out there who exercise daily and eat all the right things who have higher body fat than you. I also guarantee that there are people who are sedentary and eat worse than you that look better than you. Thinking everyone's metabolic and hormonal systems are identical is incredibly naive.
That said, daily rigorous exercise and proper diet are a massive equalizer.
Therein lies another problem though, a "proper diet" for one person could be a catastrophe for another. I'd wager that most people don't know what their "ideal" diet is.

No animal can maintain or grow its body weight without a certain amount of calories, and that includes even those humans that suffer from hypothyroidism. That's why there were no fat people in the WWII concentration camps. People are fat because they consume too many calories, period.

I have tried to help so many people that are fat and in every case where they would declare over and over again that they didn't eat too much, or that they ate healthy, they were always overeating. Every single time.

The issue is common sense. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, so many people today like to try and make it complex. The most important one being is a dysfunctional modern Western society that doesn't want to make fat people feel bad about something they themselves are responsible for. That's why there are so many fat people today.

Oh, and unless someone does an extreme amount of daily exercise, exercise has little effect on whether someone is fat or not. The typical amount of calories burned in a typical exercise session is doing no better than cancelling out the effects of say a Snickers bar. The key, again, is the amount of calories consumed. Any person can sit on their ass and still be thin.

Anonymous's picture

Random guy tried to help "so many people" who are fat and found out they were overeating. Welp, close up shop, scientists. No other evidence needed.

The level of naivete and stupidity here is mind numbing.

Evidence? You mean like all the emaciated prisoners in the WWII concentration camps, and every other emaciated person throughout human history that has also starved?

Naiveté and stupidity? I'm life long thin; I hope you can say the same. Can you?

Anonymous's picture

6ft2 and 173lb nearly my entire adult life. And not stupid enough to think that my own limited life experience and the starvation of prisoners is enough information on body weight and nutrition to make any reasonable conclusion off of.

I wasn't asking you to consider your life experience but to consider the experience of human history. Point me to one case in human history where someone did not become emaciated from starvation. Just one. Of course you're not going to be able to.

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