The Fight for Authenticity
On January 15th, CVS Pharmacy took a firm stand against photo alteration in their beauty image marketing materials by announcing significant changes to their material alteration policies.
For decades, the beauty landscape has been rife with ambiguity and riddled with false narratives. The digital alteration of models appearing in beauty campaigns has unfortunately become an industry standard and the mass distribution of these images has altered consumer perceptions of beauty.
By setting new standards for their marketing images, CVS has inserted themselves into an important social conversation about how the manipulation of beauty images can have lasting effects on body image and overall health.
According to Helena Foulkes, President of CVS Pharmacy and Executive Vice President of CVS Health,
“The connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, especially in girls and young women, has been established. As a purpose-led company, we strive to do our best to assure all of the messages we are sending to our customers reflect our purpose of helping people on their path to better health.”
Distorting beauty images to fit false ‘feminine ideals’ feeds into the warped idea that women’s bodies have to meet certain criteria in order to receive validation. The unattainable sizes, shapes, and proportions promoted in these marketing materials are especially damaging to younger generations and the messages put forth by these images can lead to poor self image.
The push for less photoshop and more natural beauty comes gnawing at the heels of this mass misrepresentation and will continue to gain traction as consumer demand for more transparency grows.
Brands like Modcloth, Aerie, and Dove have already joined the fight against digital alterations and misrepresentation through the creation of refreshing campaigns that highlight unedited models of all shapes, shades, and styles.
Campaigns like ‘Aerie Real’ and ‘The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty’, as well as Modcloth’s signing of the Truth in Advertising Heroes Pledge have received largely positive consumer feedback. Because of this, more and more brands have started to make inclusivity and transparency a core part of their campaign strategy.
By joining the resistance and pushing back against digitally altered beauty images, CVS has set a clear path for larger corporations to follow.
Introducing the “CVS Beauty Mark”
As part of this new initiative, CVS will be rolling out the “CVS Beauty Mark,” a new watermark that will be placed on images not digitally altered. The “Beauty Mark” will allow customers to differentiate between ads that are digitally altered or not, paving the way for more transparency and authenticity.
According to a press release provided by CVS, the “CVS Beauty Mark” will be visible on marketing materials starting in 2018 and transparency for all beauty imagery in the CVS beauty supply section will be required by the end of 2020.
CVS states that, “We want our beauty aisle to be a place where our customers can always come to feel good, while representing and celebrating the authenticity and diversity of the communities we serve.”
CVS President Helena Foulkes also mentioned that the company had reached out to many of their beauty brand partners; urging them to work in unison to promote diversity and inclusivity and to play a larger role in redefining industry standards.
The fight against beauty image distortion is far from over but CVS’s new policies are indicative of a larger positive change in the beauty marketing industry. As we push forward, this change could hold some companies accountable and encourage others to go against the norm.