Wayne Hemingway: Airbrushing is naff – even the kids know it


I have always felt that the basic problem with airbrushing is that it's naff. The whole concept of it, the idea of altering reality to create an illusion that some people aspire to, is ridiculous, which is why I've never gone in for it.

Most people recognise that a natural look is nicer, and my feeling is that if I were the photographer – or the stylist or even part of the lighting crew on a shoot – I'd feel insulted if my images were airbrushed because that would suggest they were inadequate.

But then there are different kinds of consumers and although I'd like to think the cooler ones realise how naff airbrushing is, obviously some people go in for it because we're seeing so much of it.

A few of the older people who like airbrushed images are just daft. And there are issues, of course, with how airbrushing affects kids, who are different consumers again. My own children and their friends can tell immediately when a picture has been airbrushed and think it looks pathetic. We shouldn't underestimate how perceptive children can be with these things.

So much depends on the parents. If they've brought up their children to be confident and self-aware, they'll probably just brush off the allure of airbrushed images because they think it looks naff, inauthentic, and altered. But you do have an issue with some young people who are more vulnerable, who instead of rejecting the false perfection aspire to it, and I don't think that's ever going to go away.

The fact is there will always be people who see different forms of advertising and become obsessed with what they see. The trouble is that the media, through which these images reach young people, are dependent on the advertising.

Legislating on this issue is very difficult because there is a huge amount of ingenuity in the fashion industry and they'll find a way around anything the Government does. The industry is all about big business, and so long as there is money behind a trend like airbrushing, it won't go away.

Wayne Hemingway is a fashion designer