CVS Pharmacy announced Monday that it will begin alerting customers when beauty images used in marketing campaigns or on social media have been digitally altered, and vowed to end touch-ups of its beauty images by the end of 2020.
The Rhode-Island-based company will launch the “CVS Beauty Mark,” a watermark that will begin appearing this year on beauty images that have not been materially altered — meaning the person featured in the image did not have their shape, size, skin or eye color, wrinkles or other characteristics enhanced or changed. CVS plans to work with key brand partners and industry experts to create specific guidelines that ensure transparency, the company said in a statement.
The move comes as more companies promote body authenticity and embrace the idea that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Seattle-based Getty Images in the fall announced that it would no longer carry creative content depicting models whose body shapes had been retouched to make them look thinner or larger. In 2016, the toy company Mattel introduced a line of Barbie dolls with three new body types — petite, tall and curvy — to change the beauty ideals girls are exposed to from a young age.
Dove for more than a decade has encouraged women to love their bodies, though the personal-care company appeared to miss the mark last year with a gender-empowering stunt that went awry: its release of curvy, slender and pear-shaped bottles designed to represent different body types.
Some companies' efforts to promote authentic beauty ideals get lost in a world still saturated with confusing messages. In 2016, when American Eagle's lingerie and loungewear company, Aerie, released photos of its new plus-size spokeswoman in a pink string bikini, the Internet applauded it as an empowering symbol of authentic body image. But when singer Selena Gomez wore a similar bikini the year before, she was shamed online for gaining weight and admitted to needing therapy afterward.
Helena Foulkes, president of CVS Pharmacy and executive vice president of CVS Health, said she hopes the company's initiative will help move the conversation about body image in a more positive direction.
“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,” she said in the company's statement.
“The connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, especially in girls and young women, has been established,” she said. “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.”
CVS, which has more than 9,700 locations, previously made headlines in 2014 when it became the first national pharmacy chain to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products.