You’ve seen it written about in our print pages and hashtagged across all of our social media channels, but because this campaign is such a personal and passionate project here at Darling, we wanted to share simply what #RealNotRetouched means, to us.

Clarifying it’s use will not only (hopefully) dispel confusion over what we’re communicating when we post #RealNotRetouched, but also educate on the difference between artistic inspiration and blatant body distortion.

In Darling’s own words:

From Sarah, Editor-in-Chief:

Our Darling #RealNotRetouched campaign commits to never digitally altering ANY woman’s skin or body in any way, to send the message that: we as women are beautiful as we are, not it need of alteration.

What about makeup?! You might ask …

We see makeup as an artistic tool to enhance and draw more attention to the beauty each woman has already been given, not as a tool for deception. That said, we use it sparingly to create fresh faced beauty that could be worn in real life.

What about Instagram filters?! You might ask …

Filters do not change the shape of a body, or make a pimple show up less, or digitally alter pixels — they only change tone, saturation, or exposure of an image — and we believe a real woman is still seen through that, while perhaps the quality of the photography is enhanced.

From Tracy, Managing Print Editor:

I think #RealNotRetouched means nothing about the person has been changed or altered in the photo. Perhaps the tape under their shoes has been removed, or the lighting is obvious and pristinely set, or it’s been turned intentionally black and white to capture a different feel — to me, that is still in line with what our campaign seeks to honor and implement within the creative Darling visuals.

From Ziza, Online Managing Editor:

#RealNotRetouched isn’t trying to vilify the beauty or fashion industry … or photographic elements, for that matter. It’s about fostering an attainable creativity that makes other women excited about who they already are, not ashamed of what they could never digitally edit themselves to be.

From Kyle, PR + Sales:

Filtered photos are an expression of color composition and creativity. Retouched photos are specifically “fixing problems” whether with skin or body shape. #RealNotRetouched loves the way women look on their own.

From Morgan, Assistant Visual Editor:

To me, #RealNotRetouched highlights the ways women are beautiful, imperfections and all. This doesn’t take away from the creativity found in editing the colors and lighting of a photo, but instead our campaign removes the element of actually altering the faces or bodies of the women featured among the pages of Darling.

From Kara, Director of Market Strategy:

#RealNotRetouched means embracing that we are all created so uniquely and intimately. It means embracing the ways that we are individually beautiful and highlighting the ways that we can live out that beauty.

From Milena, Assistant Producer:

#RealNotRetouched means not altering a person’s features, not swaying the viewer to see something that isn’t really in existence. Women are beautiful and unique. We want to show real life women the way they are. Adding filters, changing the exposure, etc of an image only enhances the image itself, but does not change the person in the picture. I am all for the correction of light and color. I’m against the “manipulation” of actual people to fit into an ideal of society.

What do you think #RealNotRetouched means?

Image via Casey Curry



  1. Thank you, I have recently been looking for information about this topic for a long
    time and yours is the greatest I have discovered so
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  2. I love the #RealNotRetouched campaign because it celebrates natural beauty – both in our daily lives and from an editorial perspective. Capturing the beautiful and creating an audience and buzz for natural is something that is hard to compete against with all the mainstream publications, but I think there is a need, and you guys are doing an amazing job at showcasing it.

  3. These insights into a powerful campaign are wonderful. They each provide a transparency into the understanding. The idea of “RealNotRetouched” is both solid and fluid–it stands firm it what it means, but that can be portrayed/taken differently by individuals. This whole movement is both humbling and empowering. A tricky combination to achieve, but Darling Magazine makes it happen.

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