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Ayesha Curry Headlines CVS Panel on Positive Beauty Representation

CVS revealed the images from brands partnering with its Beauty Mark initiative along with an expert panel talking about the importance of positive beauty imagery.

Ayesha Curry admitted she paused for a moment when presented with the idea of her unretouched images in CoverGirl campaigns. “But now seeing it, it is a moment of power,” Curry said Thursday during a panel of industry experts who delved into the  importance of positive beauty representation at CVS’ Times Square store.

Moderated by Katie Couric, the discussion was held in tandem with the reveal of CVS’ new beauty aisles, designed for full transparency. Within those aisles, the majority will soon be CVS Beauty Mark-compliant, meaning beauty images that aren’t materially altered earn a special watermark, the CVS Beauty Mark. Brands who do edit their materials in post-production will be clearly labeled “digitally altered” so consumers know what’s real and what’s not.

“It makes me feel confident and I hope when women see this picture in a magazine or come into CVS they realize this is me. I’m mom. I’m a real woman, and I hope that encourages them to be OK with themselves. And from a CoverGirl standpoint, I want women to see that this is what you get,” Curry said.

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Couric piped in, “And what did Steph [Curry’s NBA star husband] say — did you talk to him about it?” Without missing a beat Curry added, “He has husband goggles. I could be in that image with no makeup on and he’d love me no matter what, and I love him for that. But I think he is proud of me for being transparent with everything that I do.”

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Transparency is the centerpiece of CVS’ effort to remove unrealistic images in beauty collateral. “Eighty percent of women feel worse after seeing a beauty ad, 42 percent of girls in first through third grade want to be thinner. Then as they get older, in the teenage years, 90 percent of girls want to change at least one characteristic of their looks,” said Norman de Greve, CVS’ senior vice president and chief marketing officer. While he said many factors drive that it is “at least partially driven” by beauty imagery, he added: “Somewhere along the way, we decided that the most beautiful women in the world weren’t beautiful enough to sell these products.”

Last January, CVS introduced the Beauty Mark initiative and by next month, 70 percent of its imagery will be compliant in that either there is a watermark designating that it has not been digitally altered, or a tag that it has. The brands and models have been receptive, de Greve said, noting the support is helping push toward the goal of 100 percent adherence by the end of 2020.

Michelle Freyre, president of U.S. Beauty for Johnson and Johnson Consumer Inc. said consumers are craving authenticity. When presented with the Beauty Mark opportunity, she had conversations with her brands and their celebrity faces about the logistics of changing shoots to capture them how they really are — including everything from eating right to getting proper sleep. In particular, she noted that Kerry Washington, whose image is on display for Neutrogena, was all on board to help inspire other women to feel beautiful.

“CVS is at the forefront of changing and putting a stake in the ground. We need to celebrate beauty regardless of sex, race, shape, color…we need to celebrate our differences,” Freyre said, adding that she hopes to send a healthy message to her young daughter. “Healthy skin is something that should be celebrated and not hidden with Photoshop.”

Andrew Stanleick, senior vice president, North America for Coty Consumer Beauty, said CVS’ efforts dovetail with Coty’s mantra. “We want to be the antithesis of the one-size-fits-all approach to beauty.” He pointed to CoverGirl’s six very different and diverse models (Curry, Katy Perry, Issa Rae, Maye Musk, Massy Arias and Shelina Moreda) and the I Am What I Make Up campaign. “We also have a diverse team behind the cameras,” Stanleick said.

CVS wants to enact change outside of its four walls. “We started the fire, but our goal is bigger than us. We want other retailers and brands to join in. We have the potential to make an even bigger impact,” de Greve said.

Dr. Rachel Rodgers, associate professor of Applied Psychology at Northeastern University, said that with traction, the efforts could result in long-term cultural shifts and lead to more body acceptance.