Juliette Bains: Bare-faced truth as models give the airbrushing a miss

A publicity image from the launch of Dove's 'real women' campaign in 2004.
A publicity image from the launch of Dove's 'real women' campaign in 2004.
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Britney’s done it. Cara’s done it. Even David Cameron’s done it. And these days it’s something we can all try.

The art of airbrushing isn’t just restricted to picture editors at magazines and national newspapers anymore.

Now there’s apps and websites that allow us mere civilians to zap away zits, banish blemishes and even whiten those teeth at the click of a button.

In fact, most smart phones now have an ‘edit photo’ option before you even think about potentially posting those selfies on the web.

I was stunned at my graduation when the university gave me the choice of having my professional photo airbrushed – for a small additional charge of £10.

Back in my day, which wasn’t really that long ago, I remember when airbrushed photos were the anomaly rather than the norm.

The huge Top of the Pops posters of boybands adorning my bedroom walls saw an almost life-size version of 911 and Take That in all their pimple-faced glory staring back at me.

The boybands in question may have been covered in slap, but they weren’t airbrushed.

Even the Spice Girls photos I used to collect were far from airbrushed (but I obviously still thought they looked awesome nonetheless).

When airbrushing started taking off, it was glaringly obvious when it was being used (I’m thinking the Blu Cantrell and Sean Paul music video for ‘Breathe’ as an example).

But now technology has got so much more advanced that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a photo that hasn’t been digitally altered.

There are websites now that are dedicated to finding photos where the airbrush has gone amiss, picking up on pictures where a model’s knee is accidentally erased or a popstar’s ear has been lopped off.

But just because we’re aware that these images have been doctored, doesn’t make it ok.

Well, that’s what one fairly high-profile company in the USA thinks, at least.

American Eagle’s lingerie store aerie has launched a new advertising campaign featuring comletely un-airbrushed photos of their young models.

It’s nothing massively new, with Dove’s campaign for ‘real women’ and Debenhams trying similar stunts in the past, but there is one interesting difference.

The ‘aerie Real’ range is targeted at teenagers and young women aged from 15 to 21.

Yes, it might just be another marketing gimmick, but who cares – it’s a step in the right direction.

And more importantly, it’s aimed at the women who might be the most affected from being bombarded by ‘perfect’ images.

Interestingly over in Australia, the Government tried to set up a Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image.

It meant organisations that don’t digitally enhance images (ie. changing a person’s body shape, removing skin blemishes, moles or freckles) and who adhere to the ‘code’ can use a symbol at the bottom of their pictures or campaigns – like the health symbols you can find on food packets.

It was a voluntary scheme that started a few years ago but sadly I haven’t been able to find out much about it since.

I wonder how long it will be until we have something similar over on these shores.

Obviously there’s the argument that airbrushing promotes an unhealthy body image, not just for women and young girls but men too.

But it speaks volumes that nowadays, not being airbrushed makes a picture stand out.

We should take a leaf out of the Aussies’ book and strive to make normal, well, normal again.

Not feeling very hungry after a caterpillar catastrophe

Cooking dinner isn’t exactly something I slave over.

I’m not the kind of person to make a shopping list or plan in advance and, to be perfectly honest, I’m quite happy with a potato waffle and a fried egg, as exotic as it sounds.

But recently I decided to put some effort in and rustle up a meal fit for a king.

Days of planning and research went into making my desired dish – Beef Wellington.

I’d never cooked it before but wanted to pull out all the stops for a romantic meal for two.

After three exhausting hours of preparation, dinner was finally served.

Thankfully, the candlelit meal was a huge hit. But half-way through, I realised something wasn’t right.

Chewing on what I thought was a bit of broccoli, an intensely bitter taste made me spit out the green morsel in a less than a ladylike fashion back onto the plate, where floating on top of a pool of gravy was a caterpillar.

Complete with my teeth marks and tiny hairs on its back, the defenceless, very squished insect stared back at me from my half-eaten meal.

The poor thing must have been hidden in the broccoli, so at least he/she was boiled before being almost eaten.

I felt awful, disappointed that the meal was a complete and utter failure, and a little bit sick. So I’ve taken it as a sign that I’m just not destined to be the next Delia Smith.

I’ve since been informed that sometimes caterpillars bury into the stem of the broccoli. So broccoli eaters beware – you may get more than you bargain for when tucking into your tea tonight.

Stats show that growing up doesn’t always mean moving out

LIVING WITH parents means you can probably get a helping hand with the washing, ironing, cleaning and even cooking, if you’re lucky.

So it’s not surprising that more people are choosing to stay at home.

A new study has shown a staggering 3.3million (or 25 per cent of) people aged 20 to 34 are living with their parents.

The number is up by a quarter since 1996, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It’s a huge rise but it isn’t exactly a shock, with huge house prices being what they are, plus the whole doom and gloom of the economic downturn.

Lots of my mates are feeling effectively forced to live at home for those reasons. But it’s a nice bonus when we get a lift home or get a slap-up breakfast after a night out.

However, living at home also means pretending not to be too hungover and being told your ‘floor-drobe’ is an unacceptable mess rather than the innovative storage system you thought it was.

Money-wise though, it’s obvious that the Hotel of Mum and Dad makes financial sense for many young people.

Caroline Verdon column: True love and romance is as individual as we are