Let’s talk about Beauty and Aging, Truth in Advertising and the September Issue of Vogue.

You may not be old enough to remember, but there was a time, not so long ago, when magazines were everything. Before the internet, they were the source for current information, it’s where you went for the latest. In the fashion and beauty world, the bible, the pinnacle, full of incredible photography and beautiful, inspiring stories, the September Issue of Vogue. I’ve saved 12 issues with the oldest from 1993. I can’t believe I’ve kept them through a dozen moves but that’s how much I loved them. They were enormous, the biggest I have, from 2001, is 772 pages.

It’s got be a bit tough to be a magazine in 2023- the current September issue is a thin 368 pages, half as many pages as the issue in 2001, but I was still excited to get one and I’m happy I did.

The new cover, always a HUGE deal, features the 4 biggest models of the 90’s, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington. The most gorgeous creatures ever- with such physical beauty, they were like freaks of nature. They created a sensation that became The Supermodel. 

Even in those days, even with those women, photoshopping and editing the photos were a regular thing to reach absolute perfection. The new 2023 cover and photos inside were certainly edited and altered. Here’s how a friend and Beauty For Real fan, Melissa, in her 50s reacted-

“I used to covet the September issue of Vogue magazine. It was filled with wonderful articles and images about fashion and make-up. It really helped me create my personal style. I was very excited to see this issue as the models are close to my age. I wanted to see how they showcased their beauty at 50+!  This issue, however, was disappointing.  What I saw were these women airbrushed. Really? I thought we were beyond that….

It is impossible to look 20 for your entire life. I just want to age as gracefully as I can. There is no way I can be air brushed, I don’t want to be injected with who knows what, and plastic surgery scares me to death. I just look at all of the famous, wealthy women who are permanently disfigured. If they can’t get good outcomes having access to all options, then how can I?

I don’t want to cling to my younger image. I want to enjoy my age and stage. Isn’t it all about attitude and how you feel? I am focused on being healthy and strong. I like to get dressed up and wear some new make up - to give me an added boost.  I feel invincible when I am healthy and strong and look good.

I love the approach that Paulina Porizkova and Isabella Rossellini are taking. They show their real selves. They are older but beautiful.  These are the image models I need.”

I agree with her. We need women of all ages being represented as they are, not trying to look like something they aren’t (20 years old). But then I did have the pleasure of seeing some of the supermodels in person and again, they are freaks of nature- we didn’t look like them when we were 20 and unfortunately, we won’t when we’re 50. I guess making them look perfect is meant to be aspirational, but I get her frustration.

Where I really take offense is when something is presented; a product, or an item of clothing that has been so altered with editing it’s misrepresenting the product or item. We see it constantly, especially with beauty products. In my opinion, this is false advertising. In fact, in 2011 L’oreal, the world’s largest beauty company, was fined over false claims for a Lancome skin care product. In 2014, the Advertising Standards Agency in the UK banned Lancome advertisements featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington for being too airbrushed and not realistic to product results. We often see ads for mascara with very small hidden text saying “lash inserts were used.” Really? False lashes for a mascara ad!? That’s totally misleading and lying to the consumer.

Imagine my pleasantly surprised reaction when I opened the first page of the new September Vogue and saw Julia Roberts at 55 in an ad for a Lancome fragrance looking gorgeous with a few fine lines and crows feet. On turning the second page I was more surprised with a close up photo of Isabella Rosellini, Lancome’s house model for decades until she “aged out”, looking fabulous with her beautiful face showing her 71 years!

Are the big guys getting on board with what we at Beauty For Real have been doing for years? Showing women of all ages looking great with no editing, no filters and no photoshop? I’m sure there’s still some editing on these ads but they’re moving in the right direction.

I think this should be the standard for beauty marketing for a couple reasons. First, women should not have to feel like they must look 20 years old for rest of their lives to feel like they are beautiful and enough. This leads to insecurity and a lot of excessive procedures that often look, well- wrong. You’ve seen them, come on! Instead, we should feel proud of a long life well-lived. Also, when photos aren’t edited and videos aren’t filtered, what you see is what you get when you buy the product shown. You actually see what the product truly looks like on and how it performs- that seems fair to me. 

So, cudos to Vogue for putting four 50-somethings on their September cover even if they are nearly perfect- now if they could just get real and ease up on the editing.

August 29, 2023 — leslie munsell

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.