New York-based advertising agency Ogilvy will not work with influencers who retouch their bodies or faces for campaigns
International agency’s decision to not work with influencers who have retouched their photographs is creating a buzz in online space. Here’s what industry insiders have to say on the move
The beauty and glamour world is not perfect and yet every model is expected to be. Brands have set a certain beauty standard that models/influencers are expected to follow. And if they don’t, they often don’t get the assignment. Perhaps that’s why many take to retouching and editing their photographs to meet those standards. But this sets a precedent where viewers are made to believe that these models or influencers look “perfect” in reality too. In order to break away from it, recently, New York-based advertising agency Ogilvy announced that they will no longer work with influencers who distort or retouch their bodies or faces for brand campaigns in a bid to combat social media’s ‘systemic mental health harms’.
In a city that sees many social media influencers, what happens if brands starts applying this rule? Will the Indian market be open to it? It may not always work, say industry insiders. Vitiligo model Prarthana Jagan has had her share of post-production editing. She says, “Big stars like the Kardashians are often criticised for the pictures that they feel insecure and edit the pictures before posting. So, I don’t blame anyone for using filters but as long as they are being open about it, it’ll help others overcome their insecurities.”
Jagan recalls a time when her pictures were heavily edited. “One of the photographers I worked with won a competition using my picture but he edited my face and covered my vitiligo patches,” she says. Big brand campaigns use heavily edited photographs too. “Some brands highlight parts of your body to make their product stand out — unfortunately, that’s how the industry works,” Jagan adds.
Unlike agency models, influencers have the freedom to make their own rules, but it takes time to get established, says fashion and lifestyle influencer Nandita Swaminathan. “When I started posting on social media in 2015, I was very insecure and often edited my pictures. I felt that’s what the industry wanted to see, what people wanted to see. Now, I don’t edit my pictures before posting,” she says. She now works with photographers and brands who don’t insist on much post-production work.
Makeup artist Carol Menezes points out that new-age Indian beauty brands are slowly opting for natural models. “Many of the makeup pictures you see online are heavily retouched. It’s impractical to replicate in real life because factors like lighting and editing tools enhance final product,” she says, adding that a little bit of touch-up is essential but not enough to change it altogether.
However, with the number of influencers out there, the market is tough and everyone is trying to get their paycheck at the end of the day. Photographer Soham Shoney says, “Unless the brands themselves realise it, the post-production world is going to continue working their ‘magic’, and keep up the so-called industry’s beauty standards high.”