No airbrushing please, we're models - getting to know the new industry rules
2018 is much like a grey hair: for every awful thing that has happened, five good ones have popped up.
One of the biggest, and most positive, takeaways from a rollercoaster year has been the refreshing changes to body positivity from within. A generation of women frustrated with the lack of inclusivity, who grew up reading women's magazines that were filled with advice on getting 'bikini body ready', analysing 'post baby body' and of course 'ditching those Christmas pounds' have grown up and they're using their voices for good.
Magazines have changed with the times, as have its readers, who now want more transparency and are developing an allergy to airbrushing. If there is one particularly searing insult this year it's an accusation of being fake.
Authenticity is key to success these days and a number of models and celebrities know one of the keys to success is being genuine. One such woman is Jameela Jamil, the former T4 presenter turned runaway star of The Good Place who has built an impressive social media following thanks to her raw honesty and criticism of vacuous celebrity culture, and who refuses to be a "double agent of the patriarchy" perpetuating expectations of women's bodies.
On a shoot with The Guardian earlier this year, it was noted that Jamil was the first person to feature who didn't want even a hint of retouching - in fact, it's a rule she refuses to break. The 32-year-old has been vocal about her struggles with eating disorders as a teen and is acutely aware of the power she holds when appearing in the pages of any publication.
“Airbrushing and changing my ethnicity is bad for my mental health, it’s not just bad for the mental health of the girls who are looking at it,” she told Krishnan Guru-Murthy for the Channel 4 News podcast Ways to Change the World.
“It makes me dislike what I’m seeing in the mirror. It sends a direct message from the editor to me and from whoever Photoshops my image to me, that I am not good enough as I am, that the way I turned up on the set that day wasn’t good enough. It’s dangerous for the women in this position as much as it is for everyone reading it.”
Similarly, plus-size model Iskra Lawrence is staunchly against retouching and even praises paparazzi who show her as the real deal. As one of Aerie's best known swimsuit models, her campaigns are often shot on public beaches and there is a plethora of pictures of the 28-year-old in the sand in myriad bikinis. For some, this would be hell, but for Iskra, it gives her the opportunity to showcase who she really is.
In February, she shared a picture of herself at an event that hit out at the photographer who smoothed out her skin and took in a few inches at her waist. "So gutted, I didn't get any of my own pics in this look so found some online taken by Photogs and i love this one BUT LOOK AT THE RETOUCHING!!! My skin/face does NOT look like this," she wrote on Instagram.
"So just remember when you see pics on here or online it's not always real and never compare yourself to images because you're perfectly imperfect just the way you are. I don't even look like this pic of myself."
But these women have followings well into the millions - is this new perfectly imperfect trend hitting close to our shores? Yes, says plus-size model Louise O'Reilly, who said that the market for retouching isn't the same in Ireland as is it abroad. "The culture here in Ireland...isn’t very popular. They might edit something very innocent like whitening someone’s teeth, but it wouldn’t be as extreme as other countries I’ve worked in," she tells Independent.ie Style.
"People are getting better and when you’re speaking to people saying you don’t want to be photoshopped and people are more people are more mindful of the photographers they use. The interesting thing is when you work in different countries, every country has their own different perception to airbrushing.
"I actually think it’s mainly from the social media side, like using filters on Snapchat. In terms of editorials, it's very seldom, it’s more to do with practical aspects like lighting and sometimes lighting can imply it has been used when it hasn’t."
In this pursuit of authenticity, US brand Aerie have had a no-editing policy since 2014 and ASOS followed suit earlier this year.
"Even their underwear shots, if they are using your typical size 10 model, they might have a scar on her leg -they're showing what's real. It's a fantastic shift for Europe specifically because it has such an influence on the UK and Ireland market," Louise says.
Australian supermodel Robyn Lawley, who has often been criticised for being 'too slim' to be considered a plus-size model has been preaching diversity since long before it was cool. “I get tired of people thinking about other people’s bodies in these negative concepts. I want people to be more empathetic,” she told Grazia Australia. "I want to empower women to feel good about themselves.”
"I wish I could tell everyone to not care – they’re probably morons if they’re ridiculing you. Focus on your own health, and your own well-being, and make that your priority for your own reasons."