UK Department Store Bans Airbrushing Lingerie Models

DebenhamsOnce again, it has become news that, shock horror!, many forms of advertising portray unrealistic images that have a negative effect on body image.

UK department store Debenhams has decided to do something about it. By banning the digital airbrushing of their lingerie model photos, Debenhams hopes that it will send a more positive image to customers. This is the same store that used disabled, older and larger models to promote their brand in their lookbook earlier this year.

Debenhams hopes that other retail brands will follow suit, recognizing an ethical duty to promote realistic images but also acknowledging the economic benefits of reducing the use of digital image editing. In the wake of the whole Abercrombie & Fitch debacle, it may be worth trying to spread the message across the pond to U.S. brands as well.

The photo at left is an example of a Debenhams lingerie ad with marks showing what would previously have been changed. Sharon Webb, head of lingerie buying and design for Debenhams says that the store will now,

only airbrush minor things like pigmentation or stray hair and rely on the natural beauty of models to make our product look great.

That’s a reassuring statement for those who worry that reducing the use of airbrushing will put more pressure on the models to look more airbrushed in real life.

Debenhams’ decision is a step in the right direction toward eliminating advertising that produces unrealistic body images. With good reactions already, positive customer feedback and a bit of luck, it won’t be long before other retailers hopefully take up the trend.

Photo from Debenhams Press Center 



Natasha Turner is a freelance journalist and editor based in London and a former Ms. editorial intern.