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.