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CVS pledges to get real with beauty images

Anne D'Innocenzio
The Associated Press
FILE - This Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, file photo shows a CVS Pharmacy in Pittsburgh. CVS Health, the second-largest U.S. drugstore chain, is buying Aetna, the third-largest health insurer. The evolution won't happen overnight, but in time, shoppers may find more clinics in CVS stores and more services they can receive through the network of nearly 10,000 locations that the company has built. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

NEW YORK – Pharmacy giant CVS said it will stop significant touchups of images used in its advertising for beauty products.

The company said it has a responsibility to think about sending messages of unrealistic body images to girls and young women.

CVS Health Corp. said Monday it will not “materially” alter photos used in stores, on websites and on social media by changing a model’s shape, size, skin or eye color or wrinkles.

CVS, which was founded in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1963 but now is based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, said it will use a watermark to highlight images that have not been materially altered beginning this year. The change affects marketing materials produced by CVS, which said that if suppliers use altered photos in their material they will be labeled.

CVS said it hopes the beauty sections of all its stores will comply with the new policy by the end of 2020.

Most of the chain’s retail customers are women. Helena Foulkes, president of the pharmacy division, said there is a connection between unrealistic body images and bad health effects, especially in girls and young women.

Foulkes said CVS was trying to ensure that the messages it sends help customers attain better health. She said many of the companies that make beauty brands carried by CVS were already thinking about the issue.

CVS has previously made changes in its stores to support broader health issues. It stopped selling tobacco products in 2014, and last year it announced it would remove certain chemicals from about 600 beauty and personal-care products by the end of 2019.

CVS runs more than 9,700 retail locations.