Jennifer Lawrence’s Dior commercial sparks new Photoshop controversy

A just-released commercial from Dior featuring Jennifer Lawrence—cheekily riffing on Sharon Stone’s famous scene in Basic Instinct— has been added to the long list of Photoshop controversies and debates over the place of radical re-touching in magazines and ad campaigns.

Though the digital morphing of an actress’s face and/or body obviously isn’t anything new, in recent years there’s been more pressure on brands and celebrities to come clean about Photoshop use and its misrepresentation of reality. For the Lawrence ad, the debate is centered on not the use of Photoshop itself, but how much is too much—especially when a cosmetics company  (in this case, Dior) is selling the effects of a beauty product.

An article earlier this week at Fstoppers  posited the question: Did retouchers go too far with Jennifer Lawrence’s skin retouching? Fstoppers also wondered what happened to the actress’s eyelids.

And looking at this photo, you can see why people are flummoxed. No earthly person will look like this after using Dior lipstick, and it is highly unlikely their earthly lips will either.

Back in 2009, an Olay ad for an anti-aging eye cream featuring Twiggy was banned in the UK because its product claims plus its use of “airbrushing”sent a misleading message to consumers.

And in 2012, another Dior campaign, this time starring Natalie Portman and some mascara, was pulled by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK (after Dior admitted to digitally enhancing Portman’s lashes): “Because we considered that we had not seen sufficient evidence to show that the post-production retouching on Natalie Portman’s lashes in the ad did not exaggerate the likely effects of the product, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead.”

On this digital enhancement issue, Lawrence has explained publicly : “I love Photoshop more than anything in the world. Of course it’s Photoshop; people don’t look like that.” She has a point: where is the line crossed between an artful campaign image and further pressure on women to chase something unattainable, and who controls the standards: society or the advertisers themselves?

Still, some brands are already proactively changing course. Just this year, Aerie launched a Photoshop-free ad campaign, most recently featuring actress Emma Roberts, called #AerieREAL to an overwhelmingly positive response.

Meanwhile, beloved brand ModCloth became the first retailer to sign the “Heroes Pledge for Advertisers” petition drafted by the Brave Girls Alliance pledging that it will “do [its] best not to change the shape, size, proportion, color and/or remove/enhance the physical features, of the people in [its] ads in postproduction.”

High fashion labels haven’t been so quick to join the trend, but with the growing attention to and outcry about each processed image, it seems only a matter of time until they’ll have to address—and perhaps reconsider—the practice. Or else we will all have to rethink what we expect out of an ad selling a human product featuring a human using that product.

Because seriously, people, does anyone think a pricey lipstick will make them look like this?

Filed Under