At Ghost Media we can't stress enough how much we love strong women. Our team is comprised of some of the toughest women in the marketing industry, and that is something we pride ourselves on. So when National Treasure Kerry Washington wrote a lengthy and heartfelt Instagram post about how she didn't recognize herself on the cover of AdWeek, we took notice.
"Look, I'm no stranger to Photoshopping. It happens a lot. In a way, we have become a society of picture adjusters - who doesn't love a filter?!? And I don't always take these adjustments to task but I have had the opportunity to address the impact of my altered image in the past and I think it's a valuable conversation. Yesterday, however, I just felt weary. It felt strange to look at a picture of myself that is so different from what I look like when I look in the mirror."
And she is right, who doesn't love a filter?! However, a trend that has been growing steadily over time is the "natural look." In a counter-culture movement, women in public and private spheres alike are reclaiming not only their bodies, but digital renderings of their bodies. Kerry Washington isn't the first to cry Photoshop! Lena Dunham was the victim of a smear campaign where Jezebel (a seemingly feminist publication) put a bounty out for her untouched Vogue photos. In 2013, Lady Gaga spoke out against her Glamour cover photos stating "I do not look like this when I wake up in the morning."
The trend can be tracked even in the food industry, who has stepped up their game as a result of Instagram filters taking "reality" and bathing it in a hyper-realistic light. Everything you see on your feed is altered, filtered through, and changed to be more aesthetically pleasing. Even the photos captioned #NoFilter often have tricks of light employed. So often when we hear the phrase "natural" now, we understand it to mean "only slightly altered."
Can we have the best of both worlds? It is a question marketing agencies, PR agencies, and the rest of the entertainment industry grapples with. We live in a time where we want frank honesty about body image and how people really look, but we're so often afraid to offer our realities. Can we expect perfection while absconding filters and photoshop? Can we ask people to post "No Makeup Photos" where they actually are wearing no makeup instead of a nude lip and light concealer?
We wish we had the answer. The power of image and representation doesn't always lie in the hands of the people being represented. Sometimes Kerry Washington will be photoshopped to not look like Kerry Washington. Sometimes photos will be changed to fit a color palette for an Instagram feed. Where can we, as people, draw the line between false renderings and altering photos?
If there is an answer, we'd love to hear it. As for Kerry Washington, we love that she is making her voice heard on all of the body shaming and skin re-touching. Washington may not look like she does on the cover of AdWeek when we wake up, but we're very thankful for that.