Should Airbrushing Come With Warning Labels?

Even though she’s a mom, Victoria Beckham’s taut and toned body in the new Armani ad released today is utterly devoid of wrinkles and jiggly bits. Gisele’s pregnant belly was flattened in the London Fog ads. Beth Ditto got fattened up on the cover of Love. Kim Kardashian appeared slimmed and lightened in Complex. Jeez Louise, the Photoshop-wielding warlocks should win big fat trophies for all their Great Moments In Airbrushing humdingers this year.

Or maybe airbrushed ads should get warning labels, says one British politician. Jo Swinson, a Liberal Democrat in the U.K., said that airbrushing should be banned on advertising intended for viewing by children younger than 16 and all other airbrushed images should carry labels that say what’s been altered.

It’s an absolutely brilliant idea. But unfortunately, it will never happen.We wish we’d thought of “banning airbrushing in advertising” for our Top 25 Items On Our Feminist Wish List. But unfortunately, we think that’s exactly where this idea will remain: on a wish list. Ad agencies won’t want to share their beauty secrets, celebs and models would sooner die than see their wrinkles on a giant billboard, and companies want their products to look as sexy as possible, even if the people hawking their goods are totally fake.

But even if ads themselves aren’t likely to lay off the Photoshop as Swinson hopes, some magazines are listening to their readers who say enough is enough. We’ve noticed two trends we hope take off in more glossies:

One, a couple of magazines, like Dolly in Australia, and French Elle, have done airbrush-free or makeup-free issues. French Elle even posed Scarlett Johansson on the cover in a bare face. If more mainstream American glossies joined in (are you listening, Anna?), even for just one photo spread in one issue, it would make a difference.

The other trend we’ve noticed is celebs speaking out against how they’ve been airbrushed and hated it. Kate Winslet is definitely the most vocal anti-airbrusher, but Keira Knightley has also asked airbrushers to lay off her boobs and Jamie Lee Curtis did a makeup vs. no-makeup side-by-side photo spread for MORE magazine. Even Hugh Hefner’s ex, Holly Madison, said she wanted to keep the Photoshopping in Playboy to a minimum. (By which she probably meant don’t make that CCC cup into a DDD cup, but still.) We’d be tickled pink if even more celebs spoke up about how airbrushing makes them look so not like them.

What do you think about the idea of putting warning labels on airbrushing? Good idea, or do you just assume most ads and celebs on magazine covers are airbrushed anyway?