On the heels of French Elle‘s no-makeup or retouching issue, Australian teen magazine Dolly is highlighting more natural photographs, as well. Most of the June “airbrush-free” issue’s photographs are un-retouched and labeled a “Retouch Free Zone” stamp.
We’re all for more reality in magazines, especially those geared toward girls. When I was devouring teen and women’s magazines at a younger age, I had no idea that retouching existed, and I thought I was the only person in the world who had visible pores on my face. While it’s great that this issue is happening (and will likely be repeated due to the response its getting, according to Dolly editor-in-chief Gemma Crisp), there might be some unfortunate effects. If magazines know they won’t be retouching any photographs for an issue, will they start choosing celebrities and models who have perfect skin and bodies? Would a magazine exclude America Ferrera from its pages because they knew she has dark arm hair that would make a photograph less beautiful and decide to include a more photo-ready star from the get-go? If magazines stopped putting certain stars on their covers because of flaws, maybe those actresses wouldn’t get cast in movies because directors would know that they would have trouble promoting the films without the support of magazines. This fallout might never happen, but it could. The problem with airbrushing isn’t the airbrushing, but the enormous changes that are made, especially to people’s figures.
While celebrating natural beauty is commendable, avoiding the creation of unrealistic expectations should be the real goal. Magazines should strive to feature women who aren’t “perfect,” Stepford starlets to begin with, whether they’ve been airbrushed or not. Who wants to see only flawless women? The quirkier ones are our favorites. [Dolly, Today (Australia), Girl With A Satchel]