(CBS) Are the perfect-looking beauties in cosmetic ads a threat to women? The UK's Advertising Standards Authority seems to think so - it banned L'Oreal's ads of Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts, saying the ads exaggerated the makeup's effects and provided unrealistic expectations to consumers.
The decision came after Jo Swinson, a liberal Member of Parliament, lodged a complaint against the ads saying they gave women an unreasonable sense of what real women should look like.
L'Oreal stood behind its Turlington's ad, saying airbrushing was minimal and the image accurately reflects what the product can do. The company also said Roberts' ad was the result of the product's effectiveness and Roberts' "naturally healthy and glowing skin," according to The Daily Mail.
Swinson told the BBC that unrealistic images have contributed to a rise in the number of young women who want plastic surgery, and contributed to a doubling of the number of British women with eating disorders over the past 15 years.
"There are some very real issues about body image and body confidence which are not being helped by the increasingly impossible visions of perfection which are only achieved in the editing suite," she said.
What do doctors have to say?
More than 100 studies have showed that "thin, perfected, media images" have a detrimental effect on adolescent girls and women, according to a 2009 report entitled "The Impact of Media Images on Body Image and Behaviours: A Summary of the Scientific Evidence." The 45 researchers and eating disorder experts who endorsed the report said the ads affect children as young as five, who reported less body esteem and a greater desire to be thinner in some studies.
The report also cited a study that found that a 15-month subscription to a fashion magazine increased body dissatisfaction, dieting, and bulimia among adolescent girls.
The authors wrote, "People are typically not aware of the extent to which models are altered, particularly by digital retouching and imaging techniques that reduce or enhance the size of virtually any body part, making eyes larger, waists slimmer, and legs longer and thinner."
What do you think? Are retouched ads messing with women's heads?