Psychiatrists' call for honesty in advertising
This "before and after" is well-known: it's two versions of Keira Knightley in publicity shots for the 2004 film King Arthur.
Some of the "enhancements" are more obvious than others; I counted eight. But if the Royal Society of Psychiatrists had its way, there would be another, much more obvious difference.
In a statement published this week, the college calls for a "kite mark" to be added to all images that have been digitally enhanced or airbrushed. They think that distorting images distorts our minds - particularly the minds of those who might be prone to eating disorders or to feeling down because their body doesn't quite match up to Naomi's, Kate's, Sienna's and so on. Or to Brad's and so on, for that matter.
According to some in the advertising world, that would mean putting a kite mark on every poster. Better perhaps for a kite mark to be applied to those ads that have not been digitally enhanced or airbrushed. After all, isn't advertising all about selling dreams? Is it not part of the human condition to aspire? It's no coincidence that several notable movie directors have come from working in advertising. Both jobs involve fictions and expertise in story-telling.
The difference, of course, is that when we go to watch a film, we know that it is make-believe: that's generally the attraction. Adverts, by contrast, suggest that by consuming the featured products or services it is possible that the perfect life set out in the poster could be ours.
The question is: does society still want to continue to see these aspirational images of sandy beaches, brilliant white teeth and perfect bodies, and treat them as a form of escapism? Or do we want to be awoken from the advertisers' dreams and have a kite mark explicitly pointing out the fakery?