British actress Jameela Jamil Image Credit: Instagram

They are polished, perfect and unreal - pore-free skin and an unearthly glow. Airbrushed photographs have become the norm in the fashion industry but millions of people who suffer from eating disorders can suffer because of unrealistic images of beauty. So, should airbrushing be banned? Gulf News readers debate.


Banning it might ease the pressure

Make up is a personal choice but airbrushing takes it to the next level. It is still a choice, a bad one though. If it is made illegal, I feel it would make it easier for the coming generation to accept themselves. But I don’t think it is practical at this stage or even possible. People can try, though.

There are people strong enough to understand who they are and accept it. But there are also people who are presurised to be size zero and go on a strict diet. Sometimes it feels horrible to see someone not eating when they should be enjoying their food. Even if they try to eat healthy, what they see on magazines pushes them towards slimming products. Once this pressure is removed they might improve.

It does affect women more than men as they face the patriarchal idea of beauty, where you cannot age or have wrinkles.

From Ms Atheena Mohamed Chulliyil

Business student living in Abu Dhabi


People have different ideas of ‘beauty’

Even though I think it is a beautiful idea, I don’t think airbrushing should be made illegal because different people have different self-image and it should not be imposed on others. Photography does have a say in what people perceive as beautiful, because it is creating a certain image of beauty and a lot of women, young girls especially, are following the sterotyped image of beauty created by society.

But it is the decision of the individual and the family to filter what is coming their way from social media and magazines and pick what is close to their lifestyle and vision of the world and put aside what is not.

I do wedding photography and we process the images the way that the clients want to see them. Different clients have different ideas of beauty. Some would accept themselves naturally and some would ask us to airbrush the image. Most often the ones who ask for airbrushing already have plastic surgery and heavy make-up. So, they have a very artificial, plastic idea of beauty. But I don’t think it has to do with the photography industry. Paintings predate photography but even there, painters created paintings according to their idea of beauty, not necessarily how they saw it. Affluent people could afford to hire a painter and if you look at their portraits, they are not necessarily accurate. This is because their self-image was different from how people saw them. So, they would make themselves look slimmer or more beautiful in the pictures.

From Ms Natalia Thompson

Professional photographer living in Dubai

Ban it

It is time to make fashion more realistic

Yes, I think airbrushing should be illegal but it has to be done gradually. May be magazines could put out those photographs but with a disclaimer that the photo has been retouched. There are a few clothing brands now that are actively using more real models and photographs, rather than retouched images. They are also using more diverse models, not just by nationality, race or colour but also weight and age. So, I guess fashion brands need to do more of that now instead of focusing on the traditionally used fashion models. Also, I don’t think there would be a problem if airbrushing is made illegal. After all, the goal of fashion magazines and brands is to give you the options for shopping. If they want to show how it is going to look on people who are going to buy these clothes they should show real people wearing their clothes. Their consumers would actually relate to it more easily. They can still glamourise their shoots and photos but I think it is time now to bring it to a more realistic level.

From Mr Jocel Fernandez

Graphic designer working in Dubai

— Compiled by Huda Tabrez, Community Web Editor

Gulf News asked: Do you think airbrushing should be illegal?

Yes 54%

No 46%

Have Your Say: Do you think it is practical or necessary to criminalise airbrushing? What do you think is the impact such photographs have on people struggling with eating disorders? Comment on this debate or join us for future ones. Write to us at readers@gulfnews.com

On social media, an article by British actress Jameela Jamil, making a case to do away with airbrushing, led to a heated debate.

[Instagram+pic] @jameelajamilofficial: 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 wrong with them ... it’s sad to know a magazine would 100 per cent blur all of my little lines and “imperfections” because they would see this as “offputting” because they don’t like human beings.

[Twitter] @BananaSpIatter: I don’t believe it should be illegal, that’s too far. However, it should have a disclaimer to say it has been airbrushed.

[Twitter] @ardynizunyaa: Even with a disclaimer, we are still presenting a false image of what people should look like. By banning it all together, we allow people to just look like themselves and show that beauty. Then, hopefully, as a society we will come to accept natural appearances as beauty.

[Twitter] @avery_gale: Illegal? Why not just put it in your contract? Leave “legalities” for criminal behavior.

[Twitter] @bob909: As a retoucher, I don’t agree that it should be illegal, but I do think a good portion of it is irresponsible and far over-done.

[Twitter] @peachpanther: Make-up is also airbrushing dude. The purpose is the same, hiding the true tone.if you wanna ban airbrushing, also ban make-up.

[Twitter] @Visuallures: Artistically altered should be identified, but criminalising airbrushing infringes the rights of artists and others and will not make the industry a partner in the effort to increase body acceptance and reduce the number of eating disorders.

[Twitter] @stickaponemus: I’ve met many beautiful people who would objectively be the “prettiest person in the room” that are self-conscious almost to a fault. Because they are comparing themselves to magazine covers, movies and television; instead of their own reality. Thanks for driving the discussion.