Saturday, August 22, 2009

Coming round to "Real Women"

On A week is a long time, Jo Angelzarke has written an excellent post about the 'Real Women' document. I did see my role as that of Devil's Advocate when I posted about this earlier.

As a standalone policy presentation document aimed at increasing the interest of women in our party, 'Real Women' is excellent. However, in the context of a policy paper for the conference (which I assumed it is - but perhaps there is something else in the offing for that purpose - in which case apologies for the criticism) it is indeed skimpy on rationale and background facts.

Having said that, I have been doing a bit of reading and I am coming round. I am now persuaded of the case for nameless job application forms. It seems to me to be a refreshing way of ensuring that employers are clearly blameless when it comes to short-listing. As someone who occasionally sifts CVs for interviews myself, I would welcome this. It would take a load off my mind, as well as introducing a fun element of surprise when people finally walk into the interview room!

I am also beginning to think that "preventing the use altered and enhanced images in advertising aimed at under 16s" might not be a bad idea, if only because it would give a valuable "steer" from our party, as an opinion-forming group, that the level of enhancement of images has gone too far and that, as a society, we should be introducing less idealism in images portrayed as desirable, especially considering the clear link to eating disorders. It would be only addressing the tip of the iceberg, but it would be a valuable and refreshing totemic "steer" as a society-leading group.

My concerns are, however, that this might be a tad tokenistic as it would only apply to advertising and not the main bulk of the editorial photographs including those front page photos of a stick-thin Victoria Beckham which Jo mentions. Also, I believe that there would need to be far more definition about which forms of "alteration" and "enhancement" would be 'prevented'. I don't think straight forward colour balancing or brightness/contrast adjustment should be 'prevented'. But obviously, wholesale alteration by, for example, cutting off whole chunks of flesh to make someone look slimmer, ought to be prevented. (By the way, several early pictures of The Queen Mother (when she was Queen Elizabeth) were altered in such a way, so this has been going on a long time).

Lastly, I am rather nervous of "preventing" certain things in advertisements. If people respond to a certain style of adverts by buying products, then 'good luck to the advertisers', say I. But obviously there is a line to be drawn as to when advertising can be harmful or are misleading/false, and repeated use of unnaturally enhanced, idealised images may be a case in point.

By the way, as a footnote, even Perez Hilton has picked up on the "ban airbrushing" idea and supports it! He has compared pictures of Twiggy with and without airbrushing. Just to make us all feel better (or certainly those of us possessing more anno than domini), I have posted below the picture of Twiggy without airbrushing.

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