Demi Moore has had a bit of a rough year.
The 49-year-old star is going through a very public divorce from husband Ashton Kutcher; she recently completed a stint in rehab following a bizarre whippet-induced seizure-like episode; and her new campaign for Helena Rubinstein cosmetics has already garnered a great deal of criticism for that evilest of advertising evils—Photoshop.
It goes without saying that many women would kill to look like Demi Moore when they hit the half-century mark, so why the folks at Helena Rubinstein felt the need to airbrush the star to within an inch of her life is rather puzzling.
In the words of E! Online reporter Bruna Nessif, “It’s freakin’ Demi Moore. How much do you really have to fix?”
Well, Bruna, according to Life & Style picture editor Craig Gunn, apparently a lot.
“Without seeing the original photographs I can only speculate,” admits Gunn in an interview with the UK’s MailOnline. “But it looks as though the skintone has been heavily airbrushed, with quite a thick application of the brush. Doing this gets rid of all pit marks, pores, moles, blemishes and fine hairs on the face to create a smoother look. In Demi’s case, they have left nothing behind.”
Gunn goes on to further detail likely enhancements to Moore’s cheekbones, eyes, chin, hairline, and facial shape.
“It’s a slightly alien effect,” he says. “When you start taking away people’s skintones and smoothing out their features, they look like mannequins. You’re removing the human elements of the face.”
If you compare the images in the ads with this photo of Moore from the premiere of her film Margin Call last October, it’s pretty easy to see what Gunn is getting at. Not surprisingly, the comment feeds of several articles on this issue are riddled with folks exclaiming they didn’t even know it was Moore in the photos. Others noted they thought the ads featured burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese (who’s 39).
This actually isn’t the first time Helena Rubinstein has caught flack for excessive Photoshopping of Demi Moore. Two years ago, the brand came under fire for performing the same magic act on the actress’s face in a perfume ad—a move that looked even worse after a picture from Ashton Kutcher surfaced on Twitter, featuring Moore in an almost identical shot (where she resembled a real person).
Look, I get that Photoshop isn’t going away anytime soon. And if folks want to use it to remove a pesky pimple or stray hair, I really couldn’t care less. But on what planet do folks truly want to see an ad with a famous person in it—a person renowned for her ageless beauty, no less—who has had virtually every feature of her face erased and replaced?
Please tell me it’s not planet Earth.
With advertising watchdog groups cracking down more and more on Photoshopped images, I am keeping my fingers crossed that maybe, just maybe, situations like this one will start to become a little less common. In December, Procter & Gamble pulled a CoverGirl mascara print ad featuring Taylor Swift in response to criticisms over the product’s misleading claims (Swift’s eyelashes were digitally enhanced). And in the U.K., a similar issue with L’Oréal ads featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington forced that brand to withdraw misleading images.
In Moore’s case, these ads are so far gone in terms of editing that it’s highly unlikely anyone will believe Helena Rubinstein’s products will make them look anything like the star—after all, she doesn’t even look like herself. But at the end of the day, this whole episode does stand as yet another sad reflection of the unrealistic standards of beauty perpetuated by the fashion, cosmetics, and entertainment industries—something we’re all sick of rehashing, but that still exists nonetheless. Even if we know that humans don’t actually look like mannequins, these kinds of images do send a message that any “flaws”—a wrinkle! a scar! an ounce of fat!—are problems that should never see the light of day. (For a particularly chilling anecdote about Photoshop and impressionable young minds, check out this post from my classmate Carol Gosser’s blog, Confessions of a Suburban Supermom.)
As rumors circulate about Moore’s own struggles with growing older (and the eating disorder and drug use that supposedly accompanied her growing insecurities), these ads are like a giant slap in the (digitally enhanced) face. And, of course, they certainly don’t make the general population of “regular folk” feel any better.
After all, if Demi Moore isn’t beautiful enough to appear in a make-up ad, what hope is there for the rest of us?