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Read in English: The impact of airbrushed images on young people

By voyage reporter Jessica Salmon

The Campaign

Every day we are bombarded with images of celebrities looking flawless – just think about Madonna's amazingly ageless face or the Beckhams' Armani campaigns. How is it possible to look this perfect? The answer is, of course, airbrushing!

Girlguiding UK has started a campaign calling on the government to introduce compulsory labelling on all airbrushed images.

A worrying trend

The campaign was started after the worrying results of the Girls' Attitudes Survey 2009. This showed that half of 16-21 year-old girls would consider having surgery to change the way they look and 42% of 11-16 year-old girls admitted to watching what they eat or cutting down on certain foods to excess.

Being bombarded with images of perfection can have a very negative impact on individuals – it can lower self-esteem and cause many people to strive for an unobtainable, and generally unhealthy, appearance.

And it is not only girls who are being affected. The number of recorded cases of eating disorders among boys is not equal to those among girls but it is definitely on the increase. In girls a negative body image tends to manifest itself in a desire for extreme thinness, whereas boys usually work towards a muscular "ideal" through excessive exercise and even by taking unnecessary medication, like steroids. The number of boys and girls undergoing cosmetic surgery is also on the increase.


There have been many scandals involving airbrushing in the past few years and celebrities have differing attitudes towards it. Kate Winslet was very obviously airbrushed for the cover of British GQ magazine, however, she spoke out against it stating that: "I do not look like that, and more importantly, I do not desire to look like that." Keira Knightley's bust was enhanced on the film poster for King Arthur but when she realised what had happened she refused to be airbrushed in any further publicity pictures for the film. Demi Moore, however, denied rumours of airbrushing when she appeared to have a chunk of her hip missing on cover of W magazine in 2009 and Liz Hurley seemed to positively advocate airbrushing when she shouted out to paparazzi that they were welcome to retouch photos of her!

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Useful words

Deutsch English
flawless makellos
surgery die Operation
impact der Einfluss
to strive sich anstrengen
unobtainable unerreichbar
eating disorder die Essstörung
to be on the increase zunehmen
chunk der Brocken
to permeate etwas durchdringen
self-esteem das Selbstwertgefühl

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