Some things, it is assumed, just belong together. Take the fashion and beauty industries where it's almost impossible to think of creating ads without models whose images have been retouched to a level of physical near perfection not achievable in nature. The whole point, the reasoning has always gone, is consumers are not interested in buying products from models that look like them.
Of course, there have been a small number of brands and retailers that have challenged this thinking. Dove's "Real Beauty" ad campaign is well known in the U.S. In the U.K., Debenhams got press coverage when it added larger size mannequins to its flagship store in London.
More recently in the U.S., American Eagle Outfitters announced it was launching its "Aerie Real" lingerie with models of various sizes promoting the spring line. While the models are all professional and beautiful, the retailer made the decision to not use any retouching to further enhance the images.
"We left everything. We left beauty marks, we left tattoos, what you see is really what you get with our campaign," Jenny Altman, the style and fit expert for the Aerie Real line, told Juju Chang of ABC News' "Good Morning America" program.
A video on American Eagle's YouTube channel invites viewers for a "Real Talk with Amber," a beautiful, young woman who says women should be "unapologetic for who they are" and "what they look like."
American Eagle is bringing the campaign in practical ways in store including having bra specialists on hand to help customers find the right fit based on their particular build. Online, it is offering images of the same bra style worn by models in different shapes to aid in the buying decision process.
Which type of advertising, reality or fantasy, has the greatest potential to drive sales of beauty and fashion products?