Friday 4 July 2014

Airbrushing away our children's self-confidence.

It was a complete coincidence that I was contacted by Dove and asked if I wanted to discuss airbrushing on the exact same day I'd been distracting myself from actually doing any writing by laughing at celebrity photoshop fails.

It pretty much wiped the smile of my face as the realisation dawned that, okay, celebrities with accidentally erased limbs are hilarious, but actually what was happening there was genuinely scary rather than funny.

This is a true image
Every photo we see is airbrushed to give us an illusion we can never have as reality. We know these people are real, they exist, they act and model, but the images we see can't ever be achieved even by them, so what on Earth are we teaching our children?

We're saying to our children that this is what a human should look like, this is who you should find attractive, this is who you should aspire to be like. Worse than that it's not even static. The goalposts are moving constantly. It's only going to be matter of time before no-one actually leaves their house because they're living a fantasy life on their Social Media as a 7 foot tall 6 stone waif with perfect skin and flowing, glossy locks, and eyes that'll reflect a page of text at 15 feet.

I've got a house full of teenagers and we've tried our best to instil confidence in them. They're all supported in whoever they want to be and no-one is judged on appearance at home. I'm not daft, I know that peer pressure is a greater influence on a child's appearance than their parents will ever be, and I'm not happy with what they come home with. I'm not happy that my skinny, bottom of the chart teenagers come home and don't have an extra sandwich even though they're hungry. I'm not happy that they talk about how big their bellies are. I'm not happy that they look at TV programmes and adverts and comment on how such and such 'has put on weight'. I'm especially not happy that they started all this before they were teenagers. At 10 years old they were begging for make up and hair straighteners, who were they trying to impress? When did childhood disappear? Why do our young people waste all that time trying to make themselves look more attractive when they aren't even attempting to find a partner or have a relationship, they're still children.

It's also a coincidence that today I read a post by Rainbeaubelle entitled 'A Gentle Reminder' and featuring the Theodore Roosevelt quote "Comparison is the thief of joy". We're actually making ourselves unhappy, and for what? Who gains from this? We need to remind ourselves that human beauty isn't those photoshopped celebrities we see, that's as much art as any Picasso, and the way things are going, it won't be many years before Picasso's paintings will have more in common with reality than the images we're bombarding ourselves and our children with every day.

In May the fourth Dove Real Beauty Debate took place discussing how airbrushing affects us and asking "Should Airbrushing Be Banned?". Their Changing Face Of Beauty report found that around 63% of  UK women would like to see more women without digital enhancement in the media.

I don't necessarily believe airbrushing needs to be banned, but I think it should have a clear disclaimer.

What do you think? 

This is not a true image.

Thanks to Dove for these depressing highlights of their 2014 Survey of UK women.

stats regarding body confidence

I've not been paid or  given anything in return for this post.


  1. It would be nice for a clearer message on magazines etc when images have been airbrushed. I hope to in still confidence in my daughter as she gets older but know that outside influences are hard to control. Can I just say (not just because you are one of my favourite people!) that you look so much better in the first photo!

    1. Awwwww, thanks Tami - that's very kind of you - Eileen said I looked best in the 3rd really skinny one :D

  2. You look best in the first photo you personality shines through


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