CVS to Stop Airbrushing Ads

Written by Antionette Meeks at Cairn Guidance in partnership with the Dove Self Esteem Project

Between numerous social media campaigns meant to unite and empower women and the latest move by CVS to stop “materially altering” (also known as photoshopping) imagery associated with beauty products in their store advertisements, website and social media, it’s clear that the narrow spaces carved out for women in society are being challenged.

This is especially true in the beauty industry. What message are we sending to our young people when the images they see convey only one type of beauty that doesn’t exist in reality without the aid of technology? 

Dove is on a mission to challenge this notion through the Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP).  The DSEP Confident Me! curriculum represents five lessons and a single lesson stand-alone or booster activity focused on helping youth develop or improve body confidence and increase self esteem.  Included in these lessons are opportunities for students to learn about external influences and manipulations by media and social media.  They learn about where appearance ideals come from and how these ideals affect their own self-image.  These are young people who are at an age where they are searching for their identity and searching for their place while being constantly bombarded with images telling them how they should look.

The lessons also include internal influences.  What is the “speak” a student says to themselves?  How do they internalize the external influences, interpret and act on them?  Often they reach for an unattainable look and begin to doubt themselves or think less of their looks because they are not the same as the perfection they see in an image.

Educators and young people from across the United States have said the most impactful part of the DSEP Confident Me! materials is analyzing influences and media manipulations. Students state they they didn’t realize how much images are manipulated and echoed the call to have a logo or warning for manipulated images.

Find out more about the DSEP Confident Me! Lessons at