Kate Winslet Forces Cosmetics Giant L'Oréal to Forgo Any Photoshopping in Her Contract

Kate Winslet Forces Cosmetics Giant L'Oréal to Forgo Any Photoshopping in Her Contract

While speaking with "E! News" earlier this week, Kate Winslet mentioned that in her contract with L'Oréal, there is a stipulation that all her Lancôme ads must be devoid of any retouching, reigniting the debate about the use of Photoshop and its impact on body image.
In an interview with "E! News", Winslet said: 

I do think we have a responsibility to the younger generation of women... We're all responsible for raising strong young women, so these are things that are important to me.

She went on to add that she hopes this initiative propagates throughout Hollywood and helps to recalibrate the standards that young women are constantly inundated by, noting: 

I think they do look to magazines... I would always want to be telling the truth about who I am to that generation, because they've got to have strong leaders.

Nonetheless, some professional photographers have pointed out that in many cases, a large portion of the manifestation of that unobtainable standard is due to makeup and lighting, with Photoshop being a secondary tool used for subtle corrections. In particular, while this is an admirable stand (and one that I personally support), it seems to neglect the fact that the very company this contract is with, a cosmetics company, has the power to seriously alter her natural image with its products. I certainly see the argument in this; namely, if the idea is to deemphasize products and procedures that skew natural beauty and misrepresent reality, shouldn't all such products be addressed? Nonetheless, I'm not a woman and I can't possibly speak to the experience of being one in today's society. I'm also not against Photoshop; as my friend and fellow Fstoppers writer, Peter House, so eloquently put it:

Real life is fluid. When you and I interact, my brain is not micro-focusing on all the zits, lines, scars, hairs, etc. that might make a moment 'imperfect.' I am fluidly moving through the motions and focusing on the bigger picture.

However, when an image is taken, it freezes a moment in time and gives me the chance to analyze the entire scene down to the most minuscule detail. In that freeze frame, I might start noticing things about you that otherwise I may not have perceived. Maybe I'll catch that small birthmark. Maybe I'll notice the slight unibrow. Maybe I will catch a glimpse of thinning hair.

Retouching simply helps to remove all those distractions and brings the focus back on the beauty of the individual.

However, I am against the abuse of retouching, particularly when it perpetuates an unhealthy, unattainable ideal of what's "sexy." Personally, I don't find anything sexy about models with their butt-cheeks literally Photoshopped into nonexistence. So, I certainly support Winslet's stand and in particular, her message, though I do wonder if it could be augmented.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear your perspectives, particularly those of our female readers. 

[via USA Today]

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23 Comments

Joakim Drake's picture

The Peter House quote is excellent. I must make a note of it since it summarizes how my own feelings towards retouching has changed since I started taking photography seriously.

However, retouching commercial beauty is not about removing distractions, minor flaws, it's about making something pixel perfect. I personally think Kate Winslet is doing the right thing.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Some photography is editorial, some is documentary, some is advertising and some is purely illustrative.

Retouching has it's place in some ares, not in others. A blemish that may be transient can be argued away in an advert, but not in a documentary image. A mark or line that may detract from the "message" may benefit the final result at the cost of accuracy.

It can be argued of course that any sort of makeup is a travesty against realism, whilst carefully placed lighting is designed to accentuate and model a face / body to unnatural results.

I applaud Kate's stance on the issue, but given the fact that she has a talented team making her look "natural" and not all women are blessed with her skin / looks, I don't see an issue with electronic solutions as well as photographic ones.

(Heck my nose is a bit big and bent, so it always gets a little straightening, and my eye bags are deeper without that rejuvenating sleep and facial cleanser... so I give myself a little help on my images, but I don't have self esteem issues or a desire to be sexy... Chance would be a fine thing...)

Natural photographs are much more beautiful imo than retouched photos. Even those photos that seem unattractive (even when they're not human subjects) are good.Taking a picture and photoshopping it makes the picture a lie. It's sort of like looking at FB profile pictures or any other picture. You always show your best, never your worst. I personally prefer the worst.

Rob Woodham's picture

If "taking a picture and photoshopping it is a lie", then that argument can be applied to basically any editing including changes to light and color. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be a realist in regard to your photography. If that's your thing, go for it! To say that a photo is "a lie" if it's been edited, however, is a little short-sighted in my opinion.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Adjust the contrast, move the lighting to show a different profile, increase the clarity slider, tweak the WB to anything other than technically correct, pop a vignette... They'd all be lies.

There is no absolute truth to a 2D image of a 3D world. Everything is merely a representation.

I agree, presenting things in the best possible way sucks. Let's make everything miserable so that we can all pretend we're edgy and different.

We'll start with your profile picture. Upload the real one without the 2-stop overexposure you used to blow out your skin flaws, as it's 2001 and we're all cam-whoring on MySpace.

"Forgo Any Photoshopping" — "devoid of any retouching"

I suspect those phrases are at least slightly overstated. Don't they have the option to fine-tune basic things like color balance, contrast, sharpness, etc in post production if needed? I'd love to see the wording of the relevant sections of her contract.

I think we should get away from making such broad statements that vilify ALL photo editing, and that vilify ANY use of one product (Photoshop) in particular. Instead, we should specifically criticize things like "excessive" or "misleading" photo editing. The general public is getting the wrong idea with these exaggerated statements.

That said, I do love the idea that Kate Winslet wants to project a much more natural and realistic public image. I do agree, that a proliferation of overly-manipulated beauty, fashion, and celebrity images can have a negative psychological impact on the public. I just wish we could all speak more accurately and precisely while discussing the issue.

From amongst Loreal, Hollywood and Adobe, she targets the one least responsible for setting impossible standards for women's beauty.

Why is makeup ok and retouching is "cheating?" Isn't it the exact same thing? The opposite of reality.

michael andrew's picture

Yes exactly, I personally strongly dislike makeup. I am a hippy though. I prefer the look of women than do not wear makeup, it is odd to me that women paste stuff on their face to look better, i guess i get it for a night out or for a wedding but for work and a casual day out is just bizarre to me.

Playing devil's advocate here, perhaps it's because she actually does wear makeup when out in public, but she doesn't have access to the glamorizing benefits of Photoshop in those circumstances. Therefore, the Photoshop benefits are deemed a "less honest" depiction of her typical public appearance, because those benefits only exist in photos, whereas people can regularly see her wearing makeup in person.

In the end, it's still a line drawn in the sand, but many things in life are that way.

Dana Goldstein's picture

When I read about "stars" making these demands, I always think back to what George Hurrell (if you don't know that name instantly, google him) said: When he used to deliver "proofs" to stars, the negatives would have already been retouched, but he would present them as the originals, which were then going to be worked on. "And not one of them," he recounted, "said 'This isn't me.'"

I think the attitude of people like Kate Winslet, for all their time in front of the camera, betrays a deep lack of understanding of photography. Just by lighting choices, we are already able to have an immense impact on how our subjects will look -- is she being lit to fill in lines and give a smooth appearance to the skin, or will the angle of the light make her skin look rougher and make lines stand out? I also agree that Lancôme is already doing everything humanly possible with makeup to make her look her best, and she is being paid handsomely for all this. Perhaps in the interest of being a "strong leader" she should do her own hair and makeup, and have the crew just show up at her house at 8am?

Maybe you have to differentiate between basic retouching like removing little spots or hairs in contrast to heavily using something like liquify where the nose is shrunk, the waist gets thinner and the breasts get bigger. When seeing the finished picture Kate Winslet would not even notice the former so maybe the contract is not that strict. But I agree that I do not like the latter.

Rob P's picture

Her points are good but being politically anti-retouch and also a face model for "age-defy" makeup just smells like brilliant marketing - in one sweep they might change public perception of thier campaign from "oh, advertising ruins body image to sell stuff and the model doesnt even look like that" to " these guys are really political and what you see is thanks to only product and not retouch" - all the discussion frenzy is free marketing

Arturo Mieussens's picture

What about any makeup or any flattering lights?

Peter House's picture

Thanks for the shout out Alex. Cheers!

Alex Cooke's picture

Thanks for the great perspective!

I wonder if the photoshop rule goes both ways.. does the photographer use ps themselves prior to the client getting the image?

Regardless.
I think this is a great marketing for both the photographer and the makeup company.

michael buehrle's picture

isn't makeup "retouching" ? how about she does an add without any or great lights ? bet she won't be as beautiful as she thinks she is. just looking for free press since her career is on the downward curve now.

Louis Hopgood's picture

All I can think is sympathy for the poor photographer, they're gonna have to perform miracles.

Does anybody really think that the Lancôme photo used to illustrate this article has not been retouched? And with her approval, I am sure. Nope, this was just a comment calculated to generate some publicity...

And we have all fallen for it... Doh!

Photoshop is to virtual space as Lancôme is to meatspace. I have precious little patience for arguments that try to differentiate the two.

If Ansel Adams were alive today and was shown what a copy of PS could do, he'd go balls-to-the-wall apesh*t with it. He used to spend days in the darkroom tweaking his prints until they were just right. He could've accomplished the same thing with a few minutes' worth of PS post-processing.

We live in a glorious age of expression, creativity and control, and we still have people longing for SOOC photography for *everything*.

Zara Ali's picture

There is no comparison between original and photoshop editing.