Glossy Talk: ACP's Australian Beauty Awards + Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image
It's sort of ironic that ACP Magazines should be celebrating its Australian Beauty Awards – dubbed "the Beauty Oscars" – at the same time that the Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image, which includes magazines declaring when images have been airbrushed, is released.
How many of the beauty companies or 2500 products included for judging would get the body-image-friendly seal of approval based on their advertising images? Compliance with the 'realistic and natural images of people' criteria stipulates:
- refrain from removing moles, freckles and other permanent distinguishing marks;
- ensure skin tones remain natural and refrain from smoothing over creases and lines;
- ensure that where alterations are made to an image of a person it results in the image remaining as close to natural as possible and not resulting in a significant change to the image (except where the intent is to produce an image that is not realistic;
- dislcose images that have been retouched;
- where organisations wish to further demonstrate good practice in this area they are encouraged to develop the media literacy of their consumers by making them aware of the extent to which images have been manipulated within a publication and work that goes into taking professional photographs of models.
Further, the 'Fair Placement' principle "encourages organisations to ensure the messages in advertising do not contradict the positive body image messages that may be presented in editorial content. Organisations are encouraged to follow body image editorial content with advertising that uses consistently positive messaging... refrain from following body image editorial content with advertising for products or messages that are concerned with:
- rapid weight loss
- cosmetic surgery that is not medically necessary
- excessive exercise
- promoting negative body image or are in direct conflict with positive body image messages."
A quick flick through any glossy on the stands and it's plain to see about 0% of beauty advertising to women would get the tick of approval. Take, for instance, a Maybelline DPS for SuperStay Makeup. The copy reads: "Meet the foundation that stays fawless beyond any stretch of the imagination." The irony!
This typifies one of the key problems with the code: changing an entrenched media culture based on selling product for its survival. I really do sympathise with editors and publishers who have a lot of hard work ahead of them if they are to comply with the code. HEADACHE. Sustaining a glossy magazine without beauty advertising is nigh on impossible. Beauty is BIG BUSINESS in glossy land.
Speaking to Mediaweek, Beauty Awards ambassador Bronwyn McCahon says: "[Advertisers are] chuffed when they get notification they have won awards, because at ACP we do have such a power to communicate with the young women of Australia. If we are announcing a product as an overall winner in skin care, or hair care, it's a big testament to that beauty product. A lot of advertisers are getting on board and wanting to run with their own advertising campaigns off the back of the Beauty Awards. A lot of our readers are beauty obsessed and want to own the best products and will spend a fortune, so the website was updated regularly and was really interactive with the judging panel."
The Beauty Awards winners will feature in a 12-page beauty supplement in the August issues of Cosmo, Grazia, madison and The Australian Women's Weekly. Winners will be announced on Monday July 5. Whether beauty advertisers or the code wins on the body image front remains to be seen. I imagine many meetings taking place behind boardroom doors. Change is afoot.
Girl With a Satchel