So what would more truthful, more ethical, more realistic, but just as useful and effective advertising look like? If images really are as easy to doctor as the critics suggest, then it should be just as easy to transform ordinary pictures of everyday women into ads for clothes, accessories, and makeup. And we already have immense caches of digital images featuring exactly the types of women we encounter on a regular basis in real life. As TV commercials tend more and more toward obsolescence, and marketers cast about for newer and better ways to reach their audiences, it seems to me they ought to avail themselves of the opportunity to rise above their saprophytic, bottom-dwelling, insecurity-inducing industry practices. Why not use our friends, why not use us, as models—assuming we give them permission to do so?
As long as there were some mechanism in place to ensure the doctored images resulted in faithful renderings of how the products would affect our appearance (and that could be tricky because the marketers would have a huge incentive to make the pics look too good), the problem of impossible standards and artificial ideals would be solved.
I'd be amazed if something like this isn’t already happening.