CVS Will Stop Altering Beauty Images In Its Ads

The company has created a watermark for beauty images that have not been materially altered.

CVS Pharmacy is stepping up to the plate to make a positive impact on the beauty industry. The company has announced a commitment to be completely transparent with customers about whether or not ad images are authentic or digitally altered. They're rolling out new standards for post-production alterations of beauty imagery it creates for stores, websites, social media and any marketing materials which will be in full effect by the end of 2020.

As part of the new initiative, CVS will require other beauty brands that sell products in its stores to provide images that have not been materially altered. Otherwise, an alert label will be placed on the images. 

"As a woman, mother and president of a retail business whose customers predominantly are women, I realize we have a responsibility to think about the messages we send to the customers we reach each day," Helena Foulkes, CVS Pharmacy president and executive vice president of CVS Health, said in a press release. "The connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, especially in girls and young women, has been established. As a purpose-led company, we strive to do our best to assure all of the messages we are sending to our customers reflect our purpose of helping people on their path to better health."

The company also announced  it will introduce the "CVS Beauty Mark" this year,  a watermark on images to indicate it has not been materially altered. "For this initiative, 'materially altered' is defined as changing or enhancing a person's shape, size, proportion, skin or eye color, wrinkles or any other individual characteristics," according to the press release. 

The decision comes at the height of the body positive movement. More and more people are speaking out about the harm of perpetuating unrealistic standards of beauty and how the use of digitally altered models can negatively impact the way people view themselves and others. Body-shaming and comparing themselves to these unattainable beauty standards can lead to serious issues like eating disorders and negative effects on mental wellness.

As a result, we've seen some positive change in the market. In the fashion industry, many brands are refusing to airbrush or retouch the models in their campaigns and plus-size models have finally been given equal treatment on the NYFW runway. More than 60 models created a call to action asking the industry to stop promoting eating disorders and endorsing ideals of extreme thinness. In addition, beauty magazine Allure announced last year that it will no longer use the term "anti-aging" to stop reinforcing the idea that aging is a condition we need to fight. These are just a few examples. 

"The CVS Beauty Mark supports a more positive self image in women and girls by promoting more realistic beauty imagery. #RealisBeautiful," CVS Pharmacy wrote on Instagram. 

The company, which has more than 9,700 locations, is setting a great example, but many more brands need to follow suit to really make a huge impact. 

Cover image via Roman Tiraspolsky /

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