Here's How the 'Real/Unreal Project' is Promoting Real Beauty and Real Women in Ads

The campaign aims to end the use of Photoshop and underweight models in advertising.

Can you believe it's been over a decade since Dove launched the Campaign for Real Beauty? The marketing movement rocked the world back in 2004 by celebrating real women of all shapes and sizes. Remember these body-positive billboards?

Here's How the 'Real/Unreal Project' is Trying to Get Rid of Photoshop in Ads

While this was one of the most successful ad campaigns of the decade and started a great dialogue about "real women," there's still a lot of work to be done in the advertising world. For every Aerie campaign that features un-retouched images, there are plenty of ads with unrealistically Photoshopped images of models, perpetuating an unhealthy standard of beauty. It's SO easy to think that "beautiful" means "super skinny."

And that's where Adi Barkan comes in. The Israeli fashion photographer created the Real/Unreal Project to rally brands, companies, and consumers against unhealthy practices in the industry. He's fighting against the use of Photoshop touch-ups to reduce body measurements in ads and wants to implement laws that make hiring underweight models illegal.

He's fighting against this:

According to the Real/Unreal website: "We have made it our quest to end the distressing phenomenon of advertisers damaging the healthy body image of young people, and to commit brands and companies to promote a healthy and achievable beauty standard."

As a photographer in the industry, Barkan has been campaigning to redefine beauty standards and ad practices for years. In the early '00s, he introduced a bill that required modeling agencies to measure their models' BMIs to ensure they were at a healthy weight. The law was passed in Isreal in 2004.

Now, his focus is on urging brands worldwide to stop using underweight models and Photoshop to hide "imperfections" and shrink waistlines. Here's his TEDx Talk on the topic:

Now that's something we can get behind.

If you're interested in finding out more, check out the Real/Unreal Project.

The Director of Editorial Operations at Livingly Media and lover of all things sprinkles.