Last week Huda Beauty lifted the lid on how much editing is involved in their campaigns (via an Insta video, ofc). But is this transparency enough to tackle unrealistic beauty standards? Our lovely writer Nicky shares her thoughts…

Back when Instagram first launched in 2010 (wow does this make me feel old), there were only a few filters that changed the colour of photographs and our pages looked like a bag of Skittles had exploded – oh how I miss these days. Now, those who didn’t know when to call it quits on saturation (hello orange Skittles) are self-taught Photoshop wizzes – not including me, unfortunately. Never did I imagine that 11 years later I’d be able to (if I could get my head around Photoshop) give myself a Brazilian butt lift, abs, and a perfectly contoured face to match without stepping foot in a gym, but is this a dream come true or a one-way ticket to unrealistic beauty standards? I think the latter, unless you like being a catfish that is.

The funny thing is that we all know these overedited images are exactly that, but we still feel bad when we look at them. Well, most of us anyway. The trouble is, it’s hard to tell just how edited they are when they look so life-like. This actually came up in conversation the other day with my sister – who’s a lot younger than me and more vulnerable on Instagram – where we said this could be solved with disclaimers, which is what Huda Kattan, founder and CEO of Huda Beauty, has only gone and done. But now that I’ve seen what this looks like, my thoughts have changed.

Before, my thought process went a little like “if women are aware of just how unrealistic these images are, they won’t feel so bad about themselves”, which I said out loud to my sister after falling for clickbait (I wish I could say I was better than this) and seeing celebrities before and after surgery. I liked to think I was one of the few who knew what was fake and what wasn’t, but after seeing these famous faces who I thought were naturally beautiful, I didn’t know which way was up anymore.

Now, after seeing Huda come clean about how much Photoshop is involved in Huda Beauty campaigns, I don’t believe this is the right approach. However, I do admire her honesty, it takes real guts to post something like this in today’s world, even if they’re hidden deep underneath her stolen abs.

She posted a fully transparent video of the editing process on Instagram, one that involved literally taking someone else’s abs and putting them on her own body (completely illegal in the real world but hey ho), along with enlarging her breasts, slimming her face and figure, and adding even more makeup. At the end, an image pre- and post-Photoshop were put side by side where you could see the real difference.

But, as I said, I no longer believe a disclaimer is enough. I don’t think anything will ever be enough until we stop excessively editing photographs altogether. Because whether these images we see every day are real or not, these next level picture perfect images are what we’re competing with. They’re still setting the standard of beauty, otherwise, we wouldn’t want to edit them in this way, when we should really be learning to feel confident in our own skin. But how can we do this when we’re surrounded by images of what people would rather look like?

Plus, not everyone makes it easy for us to do so. As a woman, I can totally relate to the part in her caption where she says: “It’s truly difficult when I choose not to edit, I get called fat and if I ever choose to edit, I’m called fake.” As women, we need to use our power for good, not evil, and make Instagram the safe space it used to be.

Huda Beauty’s transparency is certainly a step in the right direction, however, we’ve still got a long way to go. But it only takes one person to make a change, so be your own kind of beautiful and encourage others to do the same, and that person could be you.

At the end of the day, it comes down to supply and demand. Business is business. If brands know their target audience doesn’t want to see heavy Photoshopping in their campaigns, they’ll have no choice but to stop to stay relevant. More and more brands are leaving Photoshop behind because of customer demand, which is proof that this approach works. So, let’s cancel editing, together.