Ashley James: ‘We Shouldn’t Be Able To Photoshop Our Appearance With One Swipe’

The model and presenter speaks to Grazia about image retouching, fillers and being pregnant in the time of coronavirus.

Ashley James

by Bonnie McLaren |
Updated on

Even if you’re not a Photoshop pro, and you don’t know what FaceTune is, let’s face it, you have probably edited a photo on Instagram. With just a swipe on your Instagram story, you can place the Paris filter over a selfie, a filter which will not only make you look brighter, but will also magically get rid of your pores and any sign of a wrinkle. It’s no wonder Instagram can chip - or completely destroy - self-esteem.

DJ, presenter and former Made In Chelsea star Ashley James addressed this last week, when she uploaded a photo on her Instagram story, showing half of her face with the Pairs filter and the other half without. ‘Of course I prefer my face looking like this, but that’s not real life,’ she wrote, adding that using the filter too many times can lead to ‘dysmorphia’. The 33-year-old later expanded on this, posting the image again on her grid, explaining why it isn't just damaging for young people, but also women in their late 20s and early 30s.

ashley james
©Ashley James / Instagram

‘We shouldn't be able to completely Photoshop our appearance with one swipe,’ Ashley tells Grazia, speaking on the phone. ‘It's not to bash anyone who does it,’ she adds, ‘because I get it. Why wouldn't we want to make ourselves look better, especially when everyone else is doing it? But a worry that I have - at the age of 33 - is that if you don't do it, and everyone else is, then you're kind of looking older.’

The model, who hasn’t been retouching her images online since 2015, also believes that social media apps should do more to let users know when an image has been edited. ‘[Young people] are absorbing retouched images all the time, and it's having such a devastating impact,' she says. 'I feel lucky that when I was younger, I didn't have all these apps at school and I think it's so hard. Anything we can do is a step in the right direction. And hopefully in the future, we won't even have to declare retouching because it just won't be a thing.’

If you follow any reality star, then you’ve probably seen sponsored posts where a former Love Island is extolling the wonders of a bum lift or lip fillers - usually because a clinic has offered them the treatment for free, in exchange for a post. Ashley also thinks this should be outlawed by social media companies.

‘I'm not criticising any of this,’ she tells us. ‘I've had Botox in the past. And the only reason I don't talk about online is because I don't want anyone ever to be like, “Oh, that's what she does, so I’ll get that”. I think it's such a personal choice. And I think the problem is that so many people do it so openly, because celebs and influencers get it for free as an exchange. [I think] it’s absolutely morally unacceptable - it's not a pair of jeans, you can't take it back if you don't like it. You can't be like, "oh, there's a new season and I'll change up my face to match the trend". It shouldn’t be seen as such a commodity.’

And, if you needed proof of the practice, Ashley is also offered the treatments in return for promotion. 'I'm actually shocked that the amount of companies that get in touch with me offering me surgery and liposuction and lip fillers and chin fillers,' she continues. 'Whatever it is, I've been offered it and I just think you should not be allowed to get free enhancement in exchange for a social media post.’

In July, the DJ announced she was pregnant - meaning she has been affected by the restrictions placed on expectant mothers. Partners still aren’t allowed at maternity scans - even though, you know, thirty people can meet to shoot some grouse. ‘I know that we all have to do our part, but it is frustrating that you can go sit in pubs and eat out to help out and everything else but you can't have two people [on a maternity ward],’ she said, speaking last week. ‘It's hard not to get frustrated. I'm sure if it was like Boris Johnson giving birth, the rules would be different. And you think he'd be more empathetic of it because obviously his partner has just had a baby.’

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