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Airbrushing is a crime against women and should be banned, says Jameela Jamil

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Anna Brech
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Retouching photos of women is an act of misogyny, says feminist Jameela Jamil

Actor Jameela Jamil has called for a ban on airbrushing, describing it as “a disgusting tool” and a “crime against women”. 

In a scathing comment piece for the BBCThe Good Place star says airbrushing is responsible for a raft of problems, from eating disorders to an unhealthy obsession with appearance among teenage girls. 

She also attacks the “anti-feminist” sentiment that underscores the practice. 

“When you filter a woman’s photo you are legitimising the patriarchy’s absurd aesthetic standards, that women should be attractive to the straight, male gaze at all costs,” Jamil writes. 

“When you filter your selfies, you are doing the same thing.

“In contrast, we shoot men in high definition on magazine covers. But for them, the inevitable lines of age are a sign of distinction and rugged attractiveness.”

Jamil says she suffered eating disorders herself as a teen, so she knows how damaging false beauty standards can be.

“Filters and digital editing have almost certainly contributed to the fact so many of the women I know have turned to needles, knives and extreme diets to try to match their online avatar,” she says.

“When photo editors try to lighten my skin and change my ethnicity, it’s bad for the girls who are looking at the picture. But it’s also bad for my mental health.

“It makes me dislike what I’m seeing in the mirror. It’s a message from the editor to me that I am not good enough as I am.”

The former T4 presenter calls on women to “delete the apps and unfollow those who are complicit in this crime against our gender”.

“We need to see spots. We need to see wrinkles,” she writes. “We need to see cellulite and stretch marks. If not, we will become almost allergic to the sight of them, even though we all have these things on our own bodies.”

This is not the first time the act of airbrushing has come under attack.

Back in 2011, the Liberal Democrat party called for a ban on airbrushing aimed at young people, as MP Jo Swinson lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over retouched adverts featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington. 

The complaint was upheld, and the images were banned on the grounds that they were misleading.

“There’s a problem out there with body image and confidence,” said Swinson at the time. “The way excessive retouching has become pervasive in our society is contributing to that problem.”

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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