Julia Roberts' Airbrushed Look Is a Fantasy We Won't Give Up

julia roberts l'oreal lancome adWhen an ad makes Julia Roberts look like she hasn't aged since she wrapped production of Steel Magnolias in the late '80s, you know there's a problem. L'Oreal recently ran a super-duper airbrushed print ad of the Pretty Woman for Lancome and another of model Christy Turlington for Maybelline. But it was only a matter of time before a British watchdog group had the ads pulled for retouching to the extent that they were "likely to mislead consumers."

Gotta give the U.K. a pat on the back for that one, but at the same time, I have to wonder if we really need Big Brother looking out for us in cases like these. Shouldn't we be shouldering at least some of the blame?


It's not like we don't realize by now that most of the ads selling us beauty products or treatments, clothing, accessories, even SNACKS feature models or actresses who are manipulated beyond recognition. The most naturally beautiful actress comes out looking like an uber-perfect alien. Every little spot of cellulite, every tiny shadow of a wrinkle is gone in the blink of an eye, and yet, we continue to shrug it off and buy the magazines or mascaras or whatever they're trying to sell us with their tried-and-true airbrushed perfect recipe.

We're not standing up for ourselves, yet we're perfectly capable. We could boycott (the extreme route) -- or, even better, refuse to let airbrushed falsehoods affect us psychologically. Sure, something like the ridiculously retouched movie poster for Sex and the City 2 (which the studio should have been ashamed of themselves for releasing) bothers me. But do I buy it? Do I think that's what I'll look like at 40-something, like SJP and Cynthia Nixon? Oh, HELL no! (Although, I must say, all of 'em -- especially 46-year-old Kristin Davis -- look AH-mazing sans PhotoShop! But I know, even then, they probably have the help of Botox and/or hundreds of dollars worth of La Mer creams.) 

Watchdog groups that shut down false advertisements are awesome, but we need to do some of our own self-regulation and not buy into BS sold to us in the form of "aspirational" fantasies. We simply know better than to accept ads like these L'Oreal ones as reality. Or even a version of it.

What do you think -- is it possible for you to psychologically "tune out" these overtly airbrushed ads?

Image via Lancome

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