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The power of authenticity: Promoting realistic beauty standards and transparent advertising


sporty woman talking a selfie, example of user-generated content (UGC)

In recent years, there has been a growing movement toward promoting content that has not been digitally altered or photoshopped. This movement seeks to challenge the unrealistic beauty standards that have been perpetuated by the media for years and instead promote more authentic and realistic representations of people.


One example of this movement is Dove's "No digital distortion" mark. Dove applies this mark to all of their advertising, representing their commitment to not digitally manipulate any of the images used in their campaigns.


France has taken this movement a step further with a law that requires photoshopped content to be marked. The law, which came into effect in 2017, requires any commercial photographs of human bodies – that have been digitally altered – to include a label that reads "photographie retouchée" ("retouched photograph"). The idea is to promote transparency in advertising and ensure that consumers are not misled by manipulated images. The French government is planning to expand the law, also covering sponsored content from influencers.


However, not all companies are following this authenticity trend. Recently, TikTok received both attention and backlash for their "Bold Glamour" filter. The filter was criticized for its heavy use of digital manipulation, which created an unattainable standard of beauty that could be harmful to young people's self-esteem.


In parallel to the movement towards promoting non-altered content, there has been a growing interest in authentic user-generated content (UGC). UGC is content that is created by users rather than brands or advertisers, and it is often seen as more authentic and trustworthy. By using real people and real experiences in their content, brands can create a more relatable and authentic message that resonates with their audience.


At the same time, however, AI-generated content is evolving rapidly. Companies such as Nvidia, Adobe, and OpenAI are developing AI tools and platforms that enable the creation of highly realistic images and 3D models. While there is currently no law requiring AI-generated visuals to be marked, the issue of transparency and disclosure when it comes to AI-generated content has become a topic of discussion. In the U.S., The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has released guidelines for the use of AI in advertising, that suggest that advertisers should disclose when AI is being used to create or manipulate content.


In conclusion, the rise of UGC and the implementation of laws like the one in France are important steps toward promoting authenticity and transparency in advertising. By embracing UGC and non-altered content, brands can help to create a more positive and inclusive message about beauty and self-esteem.

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