In a bid to help their female customer base feel more confident about their own bodies, famed department store Debenhams has announced a ban on the use of airbrushed images of lingerie models featured in their advertisements. Citing a moral obligation to portray women in a healthy way, the department chain is moving away from the protocol of retouching hair, skin, teeth, and body parts to appear more pleasing.
Debenhams is a UK-based retail chain with a strong global presence, totaling 240 store locations in 28 countries. The bold move to erase photo retouching from their standard operating procedure comes on the heels of universal outcries against unrealistic portrayals of airbrushed women which are so rampant in the media. While Debenhams themselves has not been specifically targeted in any backlash, many clothing designers have come under fire as of late for promoting unrealistic ideals.
Sharon Webb, Debenhams head of lingerie buying and design, said: “We want to help customers feel confident about their figures without bombarding them with unattainable body images.”
She added: “As well as being a positive from a moral point of view, it ticks the economic boxes as well. Millions of pounds a year are spent by organisations retouching perfectly good images.”
In this surprise move strategy away from manipulated images, Debenhams sets out to prove that female consumers are just as happy to open their wallets to a brand that promotes healthy body image as they are to ones which promote fantasy body ideals. The move may even cut down some marketing overhead costs. The retail chain’s head of Lingerie Buying and Design, Sharon Webb, cited that millions of pounds per year are being spent on retouching images.
With the announcement of doing away with image retouching, Debenhams sets out to spark the buying power of women who have grown frustrated with the pursuit of perfection at the behest of unrealistic marketing images. Debenhams hopes that its rival labels will follow suit and begin featuring more images of “real women” in their advertisements.
1. Deni Kirkova, Daily Mail, June 13, 2013