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An Anti-Photoshop Revolution? Verily’s Take on Real Beauty

Israel Defense Forces

Catholic News Agency - published on 02/13/14

“We firmly believe that the unique features of women – be it crows feet, freckles, or a less-than-rock-hard body – contribute to their beauty and therefore don’t need to be removed or changed.”

Ashley Crouch is the PR manager and contributing editor of a new women's fashion magazine with a much talked about policy: no digital alterations to models' real appearances allowed.

“Whereas other magazines Photoshop to achieve the 'ideal' body type or leave a maximum of three wrinkles, we never alter the body or face structure of our models with Photoshop,” reads the description on Verily magazine's website.

“We firmly believe that the unique features of women – be it crows feet, freckles, or a less-than-rock-hard body – contribute to their beauty and therefore don’t need to be removed or changed.”

In the physical perfection-crazed world of fashion, Crouch and her colleagues at Verily are committed to bringing women a newer, more uplifting notion of beauty.

Interested to find out more about their innovative endeavor and its guiding vision, I spoke with Crouch about her work.

How did Verily begin, and why did you adopt a no Photoshop policy?

A: Largely it grew out of a conversation between women over brunch. There were a bunch of women, all from various backgrounds and business sectors…all of the women there felt that the current landscape of women’s magazines just really didn’t resonate with them and the trajectory of their lives.

There is a huge cult of cosmetic perfection, especially within the fashion industry. Largely what we were trying to do was to counteract that by really showing and not telling what it is to be authentically beautiful.

You read a fashion magazine when you want to give yourself a gift: when you’re flying in the airplane and you have downtime and you want to just pamper yourself. Then, all of a sudden you’re reading content that calls into question whether you’re actually living a life that is worthwhile. All the standards that are proposed about how to be successful or how to look actually can perpetuate a sense of shame or guilt and not being enough.

The media shapes that whole perspective about what is acceptable, and especially amongst young girls who are informed in many ways about what that looks like. In 1971, the average individual saw 500 ads per day, but now the average individual is exposed to 5000 ads per day, and those images are largely hyper sexualized or super skinny. So what we wanted to do was push back against that standard and offer a more holistic vision for women to – this is what we say Verily does – “celebrate the best of who we already are.”

Instead of perpetuating this culture of fear, which is the natural result of such a narrow standard – 75 percent of young women feel worse about themselves after just 3 minutes of reading a typical fashion magazine – we want to broaden that standard, and really give women permission to celebrate their authentic beauty. We wanted to challenge this sort of frame that we’re put in by the media, to help untwist what it is that actually is beautiful, to show a more radiant, integrated, holistic view of women.

And, just from a personal perspective, I believe that women have an enormous and profound power and really a duty to bring beauty into the world, and to showcase beauty for the world, in a very personal way.

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