Career and Life

Changing Society's Beauty Standards

One image at a time.


There’s no denying that many Americans, especially in the media and in Hollywood, have a distorted view of what defines beauty. Images of photoshopped models and celebrities -- many of them already impossibly thin and gorgeous -- are plastered on buildings and selected for magazine covers each month by advertisers and publishers who push the “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” mantra to dangerous lengths to sell products and a certain “chic” lifestyle.

But when 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner and 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat, it’s time we as a society reevaluate not just our beauty standards, but our values. Do we really need a size-0 model with a well-defined 6-pack and photoshop-enhanced features to sell us a pair of jeans? 

Thankfully, many people are fed up with the unhealthy images fed to us on a daily basis, and they’re taking charge by starting campaigns and even pushing for legislation to reduce photoshopping in commercial images.

Last Wednesday, e-retailer ModCloth became the first fashion company to sign the “Heroes Pledge for Advertisers,” a petition which encourages retailers not to “change the shape, size, proportion, color and/or even remove/enhance the physical features, of the people” in ads post- production. And if the photos are airbrushed, they must be labeled as such.

The petition is aimed at decreasing the amount of unrealistic images girls under the age of 13 are exposed to, and is something we can definitely get behind. A 12-year old shouldn’t be worrying about her thigh gap or counting calories at lunch -- she should be dreaming, learning, playing, laughing, and most of all, she should be happy with herself. 

“ModCloth’s mission is to help our customers feel like the best version of themselves, so we are thrilled to be the first brand to sign the ‘Truth in Advertising Heroes Pledge,’” said Nancy Ramamurthi, ModCloth’s CMO. “It should be the norm for women to be represented authentically in advertising, and we hope to be the first of many to join in and step up for doing what’s right for everyone.”

The “Truth in Advertising Heroes Pledge” isn’t the first campaign to indicate that women -- and men -- are fed up with unrealistic beauty standards. In the spring, lingerie retailer Aerie launched aerie Real, an ad campaign that featured all unphotoshopped images. 

At Of Mercer, we strive to select models that our customers can relate to — and that’s why we, too, have signed onto the “Heroes” pledge. While we wish a petition wasn’t necessary to motivate people to use real women’s bodies in their advertisements and product images, we recognize that any step toward a more inclusivity and body-positivity is a step in the right direction.

It also sends a strong message to consumers and, hopefully, other brands that there’s more than one way to be beautiful -- and that’s something we can all get behind.

What are your thoughts on beauty standards and depictions in the media? Tweet at us @OfMercer and let us know how you feel.