back to article Photoshop fakery exposed by fake Photoshop tool

Beauty products brand Dove, one arm of the Unilever conglomerate, has pranked graphic designers with a new Photoshop tool. Dove has long championed a “Campaign for Real Beauty” by using women who aren't professional models in its advertising. The fact that other Unilever brands still use all sorts of stereotypes is a irony …

COMMENTS

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  1. John Tserkezis

    Whether the action really does undo previous edits, or just slaps some Dove branding onto images and has a bit of a lash at restoring things to a more natural state, is now the subject of some online debate.

    I don't see what the debate is about, it does as the article states: It does a Revert, and resets the hue, saturation and brightness to defaults - not a proper undo for all circumstances, but works for live changes. Then it draws a big box over the image stating "Don't manipulate our perceptions of real beauty" and then follows with their facebook tag.

    It then invites you to undo the "undos".

    And yes, there's no irony lost there...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      "I don't see what the debate is about, it does as the article states: It does a Revert, and resets the hue, saturation and brightness to defaults - not a proper undo for all circumstances"

      Personally I liked the "before" image more than the Photoshopped high key version. But of far more importance than models selling soap: What happens when you apply this tool to the latest photographic evidence of Iranian technological prowess?

    2. Psyx

      "Don't manipulate our perceptions of real beauty"

      Odd then that none of the 'real women' in their adverts have birthmarks, scars, stretch-marks, missing parts, excess body hair, rashes, spots, bad hair, visible veins or are in any way unattractive.

      It's basically a crock of sh*t: They simply got a bunch of still attractive but slightly different shaped women and are telling us that it represents 'typical' people.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Odd then that none of the 'real women' in their adverts have birthmarks, scars, stretch-marks, missing parts, excess body hair, rashes, spots, bad hair, visible veins or are in any way unattractive."

        Surely the point is to say that you can be attractive without a crippling diet and tons of makeup and photoshop. It's not to say that everyone is attractive. They're not meant to be "typical"; they're meant to be "real" which isn't the same thing.

        1. Fibbles

          1) The camera always lies. There is no such thing a 'real' photograph.

          2) The women in the Dove adverts are wearing make-up. They're clothed in white underwear to disguise their silhouette. They're lit up like a Christmas tree to make the models appear slimmer as well as to help mask things such as cellulite. They're usually contorted into odd positions to hide flawed areas and to make it harder for the viewer to compare their bodyshape to that of the 'ideal'.

          Does that mean these women aren't beautiful? Of course not, but it does mean Dove's 'campaign for real beauty' is a crock of hypocritical bullshit.

          1. Psyx

            I actually know someone who went to their auditions for the campaign, and they were very clear that nobody with birthmarks et al was getting in.

          2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

            let's be completely honest

            Dove's campaign may be a bit of a stretch, but calling it "a crock of hypocritical bullshit" is just as big a stretch. These are "real" women. As someone else pointed out, they aren't necessarily "typical" women, but that's not what Dove is claiming now, is it?

            "The women in the Dove adverts are wearing make-up." And your point is what, exactly? Women wear make-up. Many "real" women wear make-up. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that (at least in my experience) the overwhelming majority of "real, every day, meet 'em on the street or at the supermarket" women wear make-up. So how does that make Dove's models disingenuous?

            Yes, the models in the advert are on the high end of the "real women" spectrum - "ordinary" people who are a bit more attractive than average, but not "supermodel" material (or whatever your personal top-tier standard happens to be). Again, how is this disingenuous? Would you rather see Honey Boo Boo's mother in the ad? If I want to see people like that, I'll go to WalMart. I don't need an advertisement to remind me that less-than-attractive people exist. I need only look in the mirror. And that's not Dove's point anyway. Their bit is entitled "the Campaign for Real Beauty." The inferred meaning is something akin to "realistic beauty achievable by regular folk, not some hyper-dolled-up professional stunner." I see nothing wrong with that.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Fibbles

              Re: let's be completely honest

              Dove's campaign may be a bit of a stretch, but calling it "a crock of hypocritical bullshit" is just as big a stretch. These are "real" women. As someone else pointed out, they aren't necessarily "typical" women, but that's not what Dove is claiming now, is it?

              Your point makes no sense. Supermodels are 'real' women, they just aren't 'typical' women.

              "The women in the Dove adverts are wearing make-up." And your point is what, exactly? Women wear make-up. Many "real" women wear make-up. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that (at least in my experience) the overwhelming majority of "real, every day, meet 'em on the street or at the supermarket" women wear make-up. So how does that make Dove's models disingenuous?

              I'm not suggesting the model's are disingenuous (after all they're only there to have their picture taken,) I'm saying that the advertising campaign is disingenuous. To answer your point though it is because there is a vast difference between make-up that women wear for work, or even a night out, and that used in a photoshoot. One is put on with a brush, the other may as well be put on with a trowel.

              Their bit is entitled "the Campaign for Real Beauty." The inferred meaning is something akin to "realistic beauty achievable by regular folk, not some hyper-dolled-up professional stunner."

              They probably shouldn't have used a professional make-up artist as well as a host of pro photographic tricks then.

              My point is that the photographs in Dove's advertising campaign are no less an idealised representation of the human form than the photo of whatever twiglet is appearing on the front of the glossy mags this month. It may be a more politically correct representation but it is not real

            3. stu 4
              Boffin

              Re: let's be completely honest

              fair point I think.

              Though it is something I do thing is very very weird. 2 things that seem to really stand out if you look at people these days that seem, just, well illogical:

              ties. I mean what do they do ? it is such a stange decoration to have which has no purpose. And yet has taken over the western world.

              makeup: painting your face with coloured stuff. Just utterly mental. It's like something we'd see folk doing in the amazon and thinking 'how quaint' and yet as you say, nearly all western (and some eastern I suppose) women do it. Just seems utterly ridiculous. And then they put on their 4in tall clown shoes too.

              And at the end of all that stupidity they complain that 'pictures in magazines don't represent them' - eh ? you don't represent a human female woman yourself !! lose the clown paint and the shoes then we'll talk.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          They're not meant to be "typical"; they're meant to be "real" which isn't the same thing.

          Which of course is utter bullshit.

          Any woman that's had a pro photo-shoot will tell you the amount of make up they slap on is incredible, so much so it makes you look an utter freak out on the street.

          Not photo shopping, but very clever lighting, photography and make up is still allowed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They're not meant to be "typical"; they're meant to be "real" which isn't the same thing.

            If you remember about six or seven years back, Dove released a brilliant commercial called 'Dove Evolution', which showed how an average person could be easily transformed into a billboard poster model. It's still on YouTube here:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U

            As Mary Schmich once said (and whose lyrics were later put into a song by Baz Luhrmann) '...do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly'.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Coffee/keyboard

              Re: They're not meant to be "typical"; they're meant to be "real" which isn't the same thing.

              "They're not meant to be "typical"; they're meant to be "real" which isn't the same thing."

              Back up a second! These women are as "real" as the "typically" picked models for companies, because that is what they are. However, once you apply Dove's filter, then they are imaginary like any other "typical" retouched photo.

              BTW, the "Before" picture is really nice, really nice !

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They're not meant to be "natural", they're meant to be real ...

            @ac 12:35 - You seem to confuse natural with real.

            1. NomNomNom

              Re: They're not meant to be "natural", they're meant to be real ...

              Fuck soap

              1. stu 4
                Boffin

                Re: They're not meant to be "natural", they're meant to be real ...

                >Fuck soap

                never heard of that product.

                Is it like KY jelly but with cleansing powers ?

                I suppose the friction helps it lather ?

        3. Psyx

          "They're not meant to be "typical"; they're meant to be "real" which isn't the same thing."

          So thin women are imaginary, whereas women with a great hourglass figure that many women would kill for are 'real'?

          I really dislike this 'real women' thing. Part of it is a reasonable condemnation of the beauty industry, but a lot of it seems to be about just slagging off thin women because they aren't 'real'.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "So thin women are imaginary, whereas women with a great hourglass figure that many women would kill for are 'real'?"

            It's all about context. The models that we see on the catwalks look that way because of the industrial levels of drugs they stuff up their noises (try having a look in the bogs after a fashion show ends; it's a winter wonderland). In that sense, they're not real. But there are "naturally" thin women and "naturally" curvy women just as there are "naturally" fat women (and men) and so on.

            Even if these women are a carefully selected elite as is being suggested, the fact that more than one body type is being presented in the media as acceptable is a step in the right direction IMO from the common situation where girls are presented with a constant bombardment of the same body type, often - thanks to PS - a literally impossible one, not just a difficult or unusual one.

            1. Psyx

              "Even if these women are a carefully selected elite as is being suggested, the fact that more than one body type is being presented in the media as acceptable"

              That's fine. Great even. However, the reality is that the 'real women' thing is often basically a chance to slag off thin women. Look at any 'real women' topic of debate and it routinely turns into 'Ewww: thin women are gross and disgusting'. So instead of making more people happy with the way they look, it still gets used to tear people down.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Indeed, not to mention that this sort of PC induced "honestly" doesn't seem to apply to the ingredients either.

        I don't see any "Made from animal bits" on the packaging.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's two kind of fakers

    The sort that manipulates images of your favourite celebrity to make them more attractive and so sell big corporation products and the sort that manipulates images of your favorite celebrity to make it appear that they haven't any clothes on

    as to which is more ethically wrong, I leave that to others. The former create two exploits of the public - 1) encouraging them to buy "beauty products" in the hope it will give them flawless skin and perfect colour 2) encouraging them to buy cheap magazines that publish pictures of the celebrities au naturel with captions like "OMG - X has spots"

    The

    1. Pet Peeve
      Alien

      Re: There's two kind of fakers

      There's a difference between slapping on makeup, which anyone can do, and flat-out erasing "objectionable" bits and creating a vaguely humanoid creature that would snap in half in the first gust of wind.

      Dove is making a good stand here. I'm getting tired of seeing racks of aliens every time I walk past a magazine stand.

  3. jason 7
    Happy

    I like....

    ...her pose.

  4. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I want a refund

    The last bar of Dove soap that I bought was so rubbish that it just cracked into pieces in the soap dish.

    I had to chuck it in the bin because it was like trying to get lather out of a pumice stone.

    1. Seanmon

      Re: I want a refund

      It's utter shite as soap right enough, but you get a decent shave out of it, if you're old school like me and shave with a mug and a bit of badger's beard.

  5. ukgnome
    Thumb Up

    Body dimorphism is a real problem and anything that can be done to highlight that we all have flaws is a winner.

    Even better that it uses technology. Lets hope that the right people see this, otherwise this will just be a piss taking exercise.

    1. Really Anonymous Coward

      True, but the Dove adverts . The "real women" still have shapes unobtainable to most, and at least as likely to inspire all the negative feelings. Maybe slightly more because they are branded "real". At least supermodels are named to suggest they're remarkable.

      e.g. the 'curvy' one is no more than a size 14 (less than the UK average), the 'freckly' one who was apparently ashamed of them is absolutely stunning looking.

      Not being a teenage girl I've no idea if the education side of it is any better!

    2. BorkedAgain
      Thumb Up

      While I entirely agree with your sentiments...

      ...I think you mean "Body dysmorphic disorder" - dimorphism means having two forms, for example male and female.

      That said, right on!

      1. ukgnome

        Re: @BorkedAgain

        lol - gotta love auto correct!

      2. Vic
        Joke

        Re: While I entirely agree with your sentiments...

        > dimorphism means having two forms, for example male and female.

        The OP was right, then - any individual suffering from that would have a real problem...

        Vic.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: While I entirely agree with your sentiments...

          dimorphism means having two forms, for example male and female.

          The OP was right, then - any individual suffering from that would have a real problem...

          Oh, I don't know about that. I met a werewolf in London once, and his hair was perfect.

          1. Vic
            Joke

            Re: While I entirely agree with your sentiments...

            > I met a werewolf in London once, and his hair was perfect.

            Yeah, but did you see the state of the people he hung around with?

            Vic.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "because it has continued to digitally alter images of models even as it promotes “Real Beauty"

    You can't be surprised by this! They are advertising a brand! They will use any lie in the book to get you to buy. Advertisers are adept at it and suck in the masses time and time again.

    Most people are so sucked in they are not even away of it, I mean look at the Apple hype! Classic example. A product which has been spectacularly superseded by competitor’s products, yet their marketers have managed to suck in huge swathes of the feeble minded to believe that their inferior product is actually of some worth. (Of course those who can see through the hype are able to see the bullshit, not many can).

    1. Crisp Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: They will use any lie in the book to get you to buy.

      Advertisers lie?!! Say it isn't so!

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: They will use any lie in the book to get you to buy.

        Advertisers don't lie, they just have the same effect on the truth that black holes have on spacetime.

        The closer you are to an advertising agency the more bent out of all recognition it is and as soon as you walk into their offices conventional rules of what is true break down completely.

      2. Fibbles

        Re: They will use any lie in the book to get you to buy.

        Advertisers as a rule try not to lie. That sort of thing causes expensive lawsuits.

        They will however tell you the version of the truth you want to hear. It's up to you to find out what they've omitted.

        1. graeme leggett

          Re: They will use any lie in the book to get you to buy.

          They tell the truth in cosmetics adverts but the fine detail of the truth is in small print in white type on a light background in the very corner of the advert nowhere near the bits of the advert that catch the attention.

          The usual sort of thing is "10 out of 15 women said they felt better about themselves if they use this product",

  7. Silverburn

    Where is the line drawn?

    Personally, I see no issue with the attached images...a bit of hue, lighting effects and saturation? Still "looks" like the same woman. It's still valid "digital enhancement". Girl in image looks "normal" before or after tweakery.

    But what about a mole? One might be ok...but two? or ten? Freckles? freckles come and go naturally, depending on exposure to sunlight...can they be edited back to the "winter" setting?

    And what about models who do their own "internal" modifications? Bulgarian airbags being the most notable? Is that still cheating - there wouldn't need to be any digital tweaking, so Dove's criteria could still be met?

    Where you actually change the physical characteristic of the model though (digitally or surgically)...that's where the line should be drawn IMO. But I suspect regulation will be near impossible...

    1. Psyx

      Re: Where is the line drawn?

      "there wouldn't need to be any digital tweaking"

      People have been retouching negatives since a long time before modern cosmetic surgery. Even Munroe's stuff was retouched.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. James Pickett

        @Psyx

        "Munroe"

        If you have that much trouble spelling names, how do you remember yours? :-)

        1. Psyx
          Joke

          Re: @Psyx

          My parents weren't good at spelling either. Or very original when it came to names.

          I have five older siblings...

    2. Pet Peeve
      Holmes

      Re: Where is the line drawn?

      You missed the point Silverburn - the photo on the right was what the photoshop macro was described as doing (making skin tones more luminous). What it actually did was completely different.

  8. Matthew Smith
    Thumb Up

    Would

    That is all.

    1. BorkedAgain
      Joke

      Re: Would

      What is with the spelling around here these days?

      I think you mean "Wood."

      Naughty boy.

  9. Shagbag

    Marks out of 2?

    I'd give her 1.

  10. David Pollard
    Joke

    NCIS can do much better

    Abby Sciuto could do face recognition from a reflection off nail varnish on a toenail.

  11. Fuzzy Duck
    WTF?

    err..

    but sir, it's just a marketing stunt to get people to visit the website and talk about it for 10 minutes.....ie. shite.

    move on people, we're not falling for this anymore...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Women's, surely?

  13. CCCP
    Stop

    Cosmopolitan discussing cloud security next??

    Not that I would mind. It would just be weird and not very insightful. A bit like this discussion.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two ways to look at the Real Beauty campaign

    First, Real Beauty is a welcome change to the supermodel-based approach to advertising where extremely good looking people, total cosmetic outliers, are used to somehow persuade the aspirational masses that buying the flogged wares will tranform Jane Does into 10s.

    Instead, Dove decided to take a bold step forward and advertise using merely quite good-looking specimens. As a result it can claim the moral high ground in not unduly misrepresenting its wares and also in recognizing that there is beauty in every woman.

    The second, more cynical way to look at this campaign, which has been running 5+ years already, is that it was extremely innovative, and risky change of approach in an extremely competitive ad industry. Ingratiating yourself to potentially 95% percent of your customer base by telling them you care about them was a real roll of the dice given the existing conventions. This gamble happened to work, deliver results and deliver an aura of social responsibility to the Dove brand. Women reacted positively and the campaign was kept.

    Had the campaign flopped initially do you really think Dove would have stayed on the high road? Not criticizing Dove in this, it took balls to launch it, but let's be realistic about what this campaign is about: selling product.

  15. bag o' spanners
    Meh

    perceptual deceptions

    I have occasional beery discussions with photographer friends who retouch models to meet the client's requirements. Generally the preferred look is unreal. Flawlessness reduces the model to a mannequin, which, if you're flogging clothes, is probably a good thing. If you're selling beauty products, then the ethics start to look a bit shoddy.

    I can't be arsed to go square-eyed, obsessively retouching skin and minor imperfections with a 3 pixel clone brush in potatoshop, so I don't bother. I'm happy to blitz backgrounds, go 1/3 of a stop up or down in Lightroom, and crop to taste, but I prefer the subject to retain some semblance of their original sensuality. Imagine how much retouching Frida Kahlo's strident monobrow would excite in the present day. It's not pretty, but it is unique. The idealised and homogenised modern magbabe is anything but unique. The hair, makeup, lighting, framing, posing, and retouch in mainstream women's mags are a consistent brand-specific overlay, regardless of who the model is.

  16. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Sod Dove

    they're the bunch that make a soap that contains shit loads of palm oil - time to start a campaign for real soap that doesnt kill rainforests!

  17. TheWeddingPhotographer

    What is real?

    As a photographer, this is all a bit farcical

    1. what does the woman actually look like?

    I ask this because typically, I shoot a colour chart, and then do a custom profile for the shoot, and then do a custom white balance, working on profiled monitors and printers yada yada. Without all of the above, it is hard to make any judgement

    And.. and then my software alters the image (a lot sometimes) to give a fair representation of the skin tone and colour

    Some editing is very good, and gets closer to real, other editing goes in the other direction

    2. What is the target media...

    I sharpen differently for print and provide a different sort of file (CMYK) than say for web, where I provide a RGB file, both can look different from each other, and sometimes I then have to edit in a compensation for it

    3. So what bout blemishes...

    On say a wedding shoot, of course I clone out zits and spots, but I leave in permanent markings like moles and birthmarks. I also will clone off the odd straggly hair, or mark on a suit etc.. along with the fire extinguisher in the background..

    There is a line which is about reality. Its akin to a room, it can be cleaned and tidy, or it can be a mess. If I am shooting for an estate agent, I will make sure the windows are clean, the room is hovered, the cushions are straight. It is the same room, but with a professional attention to detail

    4. Its a studio shoot

    And that is all about the lighting. I could take an average woman (or man) and produce 6 completely different looks (from scary and harsh, through to soft and beautiful) im a few mins, just by manipulating the lighting

    This shoot is of a woman, in an un-natural pose, on a white background, and careful lighting. the environment is unreal, the lighting is unreal, the pose is unreal and the clothing is chosen for her..

    It is all unreal

    If they want a real shoot, I am available for hire...Week by week, I shoot real women and men in real environments, usually with the lighting that is already there.

    If they want to REALLY connect with real people, then they need to shoot real people in real environments with thier own clothing, warts, wobbly bits and all. (and I am still available for hire on that one) LOL

  18. Tom 11

    no no no no noooooo

    No fucking irony SIMON, sort yourself out, what you have stumbled upon is plain old hypocrisy....

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