Why I’m Not Going To Applaud Your Advert Just Because It’s ‘Photoshop-Free’

Reading praise for an advert being “photoshop free”, I found myself questioning, what does that mean anymore?

Whenever an advertising campaign uses buzzwords like “photoshop-free”, I am always intrigued by what the company’s version of not altering a woman’s body looks like. 

Fashion brand Anine Bing’s latest lingerie campaign is photoshop-free. It features a range of women aged between 19 and 64.

The founder of the LA based and Scandinavian influenced store stated in her blog: “The campaign is about loving yourself, celebrating yourself, being yourself, and wearing what you want to wear for yourself!”.

The campaign follows nine women who are are entrepreneurs, cancer survivors, philanthropists and mothers, and it focuses on these women being photographed in their “natural environment” – the selection in the diversity of women is conscious and praised.

Though the self-love aspect is fitting for a lingerie advert, unfortunately it does not feel inspiring.

Meet: @meredith_bruner Meredith is a photographer, cancer survivor, and healthcare advocate. She is a kind, inclusive person whose drive to help others cannot be stopped. Meredith founded her non-profit, @pink.lemonaid, to encourage women to know their bodies and detect breast cancer early. “I did this project with ANINE BING because I want women to see that there is life after breast cancer, and that you can still be yourself and empowered.” Meredith wears lingerie because it makes her feel like herself. #ANINEBINGLingerie #ANINEBINGStories A post shared by ANINEBINGofficial (@aninebingofficial) on Nov 30, 2017 at 10:06am PST
The message behind the campaign may have been about body positivity and loving the places we all call home, but most of Anine Bing’s models were slim and model-esque, especially in the visuals shared with Teen Vogue. 

This campaign is not explicitly made up of an assortment of body shapes, as would be required for it to be in the body positive arena – a term used to help women feel secure and beautiful regardless of their body shape.

From size, to scarring, to body hair, being proud of your body is the core value behind this movement on social media.

The Anine Bing campaign, which displays videos and photographs of women in the underwear sold, does tell stories of pregnancy and different creative leadership roles some of the women have.

Props are definitely to be given to Bing and her team for viewing diversity as being about more than just casting ‘ethnic’ models (ie. including a cancer survivor), but all of the bodies shown in the campaign still fit into Eurocentric and normative beauty standards.

But for a campaign projecting variety, this seemed two dimensional; as if the clothing and accessories brand was on the ‘inclusivity’ bandwagon without truly committing.

The campaign was made up largely of white women stylised in their “natural setting” – out of nine models, just two are women of colour.

And although a few bumps may be shown on the models’ flesh through the simple act of sitting down, this is not anything new or boundary-pushing.

Meet: @KyleeHeathHair. First time mom, long-time dog mom, hair stylist, happy human. Kylee is a nurturing, loving free spirt you can’t help but gravitate towards. We shot this at her breezy LA home when she was 9 months pregnant with her first child—a daughter. She baked pumpkin scones for our team, lit candles, and made everything feel serene. Kylee and her partner are excited to raise a young girl with a voice who sticks up for herself. Kylee wears lingerie to treat herself. #ANINEBINGLingerie #ANINEBINGStories // P.S. Kylee gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on 11.11.2017 at 5:01 pm. Rae Lynn Hollister was born 7 lbs 13oz and Kylee tells us: “Aside from telling her how cute she is, I also tell her how strong she is. She had to be in the NICU after she was born because she was having trouble clearing the fluid from her lungs. But she fought through fast, and is healthy and just perfect. I’m proud of her for entering the world a strong little lady from the get-go.” A post shared by ANINEBINGofficial (@aninebingofficial) on Nov 30, 2017 at 10:03am PST
Instead of having a campaign which reflected reality, the advert was shown through a lens, which may not have had any post photoshop editing, but was narrow in displaying a broad spectrum of beauty and perceptions of women.

Plus – much can be achieved to portray beauty still far from the reality of many, with good natural light and rose-tinted editing.

Lingerie can be seductive and sexy, and underwear models have for the majority of time been suggested to also think a certain way.

Anine Bing had an opportunity to portray women in their underwear to be more interesting and well-rounded but fell into the trap of cliches.

One of their campaign models was founder of skincare line, Jessica Gomes. When featured on Anine Bing’s blog, Gomes was noted to be feeling “cheeky and naughty” in her lingerie.

Meet: @IamJessicaGomes. Jessica is a radiant, funny, warm human being with an inspiring drive. She has a natural ease and confidence that makes others feel more themselves in her presence. Jessica was born in Australia, cut her teeth in NYC, and moved to LA for its creative community. She founded her skincare brand @equal_beauty to give women of every different skin tone something they can feel confident in. Jessica wears lingerie because it makes her feel “cheeky and naughty.” (Said her in adorable Australian accent). #ANINEBINGLingerie #ANINEBINGStories A post shared by ANINEBINGofficial (@aninebingofficial) on Nov 30, 2017 at 10:00am PST
These descriptions alongside a petite woman are not innovative. Nor is playing into the connotations of a pregnant woman being radiant and sunny.

Anine Bing’s campaign feels as though the intention may have been authentic but the execution lacked any major difference.

You probably shouldn’t be applauded for not editing what women really look like – that should just be the norm.