Breaking down barriers of unrealistic beauty

For this task we had to discover and analyse a brand that used no retouching within their images.

The brand was created in New York by three women, Jasmine GlassAnnaLiisa Benston and Ehlie Luna. These women have poured their values into this brand building a new way of advertising - and people are loving it.


Jasmine said “The name SPKTRM is a spin on the word spectrum, in the context of light/refraction. All the colours.” - “Also, the name is a nod to the scientific fact that gender exists on a spectrum. This information still isn’t widely understood.” 

SPKTRM is an all-inclusive, eco-friendly (including PETA-certified) and retouch-free brand. They donate 10% of their proceeds to LGBTQ and women in need organisations. They encourage all ages, genders, sexualises, sizes and colours to model. In fact, most if not all models are people ‘off the streets’. The brand is evolutionary, they are trying to change standards within the industry to change the opinion people have on themselves and others.


They use social media such as Instagram to advertise their brand and “celebrating the genuine beauty of more diverse and relatable individuals in our imagery [in order to] dismantle unrealistic ideals and empower our supporters." 


There are many things we as an industry can do to help address these issues - Vogues stunning ‘forces for change’ September 2019 issue included an advertisement for this brand, which to me was the perfect mixture. 


Spktrm collaborated with Panasonic to launch the new ‘Panasonic Lumix S series’. Vicky Lawton was the photographer for this project and said “I wanted to work with the brand Spktrm because of their pledge to strive for real and diverse beauty, with all of their imagery being retouch-free. Sounds like a good way to show off a new camera?”


The only editing that’s done within any of these photos is the background - which they do just to make the model stand out more. 


Jasmine- “We want to break down a lot of these barriers and help people see beyond rigid ideals so they can have a broader appreciation for beauty in others, and in themselves”



“We hope that by showcasing images of real humans that aren’t digitally altered, we can help normalise real skin, and that people will feel more comfortable and confident with their skin as a result.” - “Inclusivity is the heart of our business model. Our slogan - At SPKTRM Beauty; We Have You in Mind” 


In my personal opinion photo retouching is not good.


I want to look at it from both angles - In a way, it’s not a bad thing for business because when people believe they have to look a certain way and the product is advertising it can do that; then it will sell, whether that’s true or not. 

The unrealistic airbrushed skin for example is an expectation we can’t meet in reality. The controversy is - the advert should show truly what it rather than editing to what people want...however, people sell items that show airbrushed skin because that’s what is the standard expectation - and by buying that product you think that is the result you are going to get.

There are other editorial campaigns and advertisements in which use retouching and photoshopping to create things you are unable to for example sci-fi/fictional things - that I believe it more acceptable. Changing someone’s natural beauty to “more beautiful” is destroying people’s expectations on themselves and others. - I hope that makes sense in the way that i wanted it to.

I also would like to highlight that there are also certain photographers who won’t retouch images for example Peter Lindbergh who said “the cosmetic companies have everyone brainwashed. I don’t retouch anything. ‘Oh, but she looks tired!’ they say. So, what if she looks tired? Tired and beautiful.”