Feature Image: Jameela Jamil Via Instagram
Actor Jameela Jamil has caused a stir of controversy after claiming that airbrushing should be made illegal.
The actor has been making waves lately as an activist aiming to dismantle beauty standards. With her Instagram account and further press she speaks on the negative impact social media and beauty has on women. Recently, in a piece for the BBC 100 Women initiative, Jamil explained that the effects of airbrushing images for social media harms both the person doing that and the people viewing it.
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Say no to airbrushing. Pores and lines and spots and dry lips are something kids need to see so they don’t grow up thinking there is something fucking wrong with them. I want to look like a person, not an emoji. Thanks for never retouching me @selashiloniphoto ps. I’m aware I still have fairly clear skin these days. But it’s sad to know a magazine would 100 percent blur all of my little lines and “imperfections” because they would see this as “offputting” because they don’t like human beings.
Although her call to see airbrushing become illegal comes from a positive motive, some have reacted with the opinion that it would cause more issues for women. Contradicting Jamil’s thoughts, many believe that if airbrushing couldn’t be used, only entirely perfect models would be hired and therefore heighten the beauty standards issue. This concern lies in the thought that regardless of whether or not airbrushing is banned magazines and brands will still find people to photograph that meet beauty ideals.
However, what hasn’t been considered are the women that don’t feel confident without airbrushing themselves for social media. Whilst it’s true that airbrushing came from media outlets such as magazines in order to portray a contrived notion of beauty, today it exists in a much different space. Though it’s incredibly unfortunate, for a lot of men and women, the ability to airbrush themselves gives them a sense of reassurance. Of course it would be amazing if no-one felt that they needed a tool doctrine their appearance, but, Jamil’s the call for the new law raises the question: how would making airbrushing illegal actually better people’s self esteem?
This is a massive element of the beauty debate at the moment which is often undiscussed. Whilst it’s stems from a great place to want everyone to feel amazing as they are, for some women, this cry out of body positivity is easier than it is for others. For instance, many took to Twitter to share their feelings that it’s much easier for a woman of Jamil’s body size, shape and appearance to make a call to ban airbrushing.
In a similar vain, some would say that the people at influencer or celebrity status should disclose when they’re image has been altered as they have the responsibility to portray an honest appearance, others would say that you can’t place the onus of others’ attitudes towards beauty and themselves on a single person. It’s therefore crucial for activists and public facing individuals to understand that for some the feeling of positivity surrounding your physical appearance isn’t as simple as a body positive hashtag or call to be filter free. To demonise airbrushing in the hands of the individual person seems to almost worsen the complexities they face.
Overall, it seems that the thought of banning airbrushing entirely may not eradicate the underlying issues that beauty standards have caused over the yeas. We need to see airbrushing as a result of our current culture’s perception of beauty and accessibility to altering appearances rather than a cause alone. Perhaps then we can introduce initiatives that combat the core of the negative implications beauty standards create.