'Models' Beware

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Debenhams today promised to stop airbrushing models who promote their products and told rivals they have a “moral obligation” to do the same.

'We want other retailers to follow suit and encourage positive body-image through minimal retouching rather than bombarding them with unattainable body images,' said a spokesperson.

'Millions of (Dollars) a year are spent by organisations retouching perfectly good images,' says Sharon Webb, Head of Lingerie buying and design for Debenhams.

'As a rule we only airbrush minor things like pigmentation or stray hair and rely on the natural beauty of models to make our product look great.'

The department store chain is launching a lingerie campaign where none of the images have been digitally retouched. Techniques include “enhancing” cleavages, whitening teeth and making arms and/or legs thinner.

The use of these digital photography techniques to create unrealistic body shapes and flawless skin can make men and women feel more insecure about their natural looks and size.

Studies have shown that girls are demoralized by airbrushed photographs of models and celebrities. Research by the Schools Health Education Unit found that 58 per cent of female pupils aged 14 and 15 wanted to lose weight and a quarter of them were skipping breakfast.

• Face and neck slimmed
• Under-eyes smoothed and lightened
• Teeth whitened
• Eyes whitened
• Waist pulled in
• Arms slimmed
• Tidy hands
• Underarms tidied
• Legs made thinner
• Stray hairs tidied
• Skin tone changed, smoothed and brightened
• Cleavage enhanced

'Airbrushing and other trickery are not necessary in order for women to look beautiful,' says lingerie designer, Aliza Reger.

'Hopefully this act will demonstrate that products such as lingerie modeled by real women, who have not been retouched, can sell just as well as products advertised with extensive airbrushing, which has become the norm.

'Men and women can feel good about themselves knowing that beauty is not about achieving the unachievable.'

Sharon Webb, head of lingerie buying and design for Debenhams, said: “We want to help customers feel confident about their figures without bombarding them with unattainable body images.”

Debenhams had previously banned the practice from swimwear advertisements but the company said the new policy is now “across the board”.

Campaigner Caryn Franklin, of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, said: “I’m delighted that Debenhams has taken a lead here and customer feedback will no doubt validate this important step.”

Debenhams previously ran trials with size 16 mannequins in windows and has worked with disabled models and paralympians and this move furthers the store's commitment to promoting positive body image and inclusivity.

The retailer's campaign is 'all about making women feel fabulous about themselves rather than crushing their self-esteem by using false comparisons'.

Debenhams' move comes just weeks after a rift between Beyonce and H&M, as claims surfaced the singer was furious to discover the store had Photoshopped images of her for its swimwear campaign. Originals showing off her real curves were then used around the world.

The chief executive of H&M admitted the company had a huge responsibility to portray a healthy body image to customers, reported the Telegraph.