I read an interesting recent post by Joanna Douglas, a Senior Fashion and Beauty Editor, about Victoria’s Secret coming under fire again regarding the rampant airbrushing done on their models in their ads and catalogs. I love this kind of story, because anytime someone throws up a red flag about retouching, it gives me hope. It seems that un-retouched swimsuit photos of one of their supermodels were “accidentally released”, and the retouched counterparts then appeared on the company’s website – so a side-by-side comparison is possible.
If you look closely, you’ll notice a few things. First, the model is young & beautiful, with a body that most of us would love to have – even in her unretouched version. Some of the things that were removed, or “smoothed out”, were beauty marks, wrinkles in her side, frown marks, a minor bulge under her left shoulder, and the fact that she’s actually wearing flesh-colored undies under the suit.
So they took a photo of a beautiful woman, and made it “perfect”. Which means that it became a completely unrealistic image. Ms. Douglas had an interesting view point on this. She wrote: It’s unfortunate that we must come to accept that most photos are altered, perhaps just as we’re realizing many actors enhance their actual bodies with things like Botox. Personally, we’d love to see the real, unretouched photos, and to see women looking like humans and not bizarre, Gumby-like creatures with rubbery limbs and no flaws. But we also have to remember that brands are trying to sell products, and as technology continues to change, they will do whatever it takes to create the most attractive image possible. Nowadays “attractive,” to many people, means unrealistically perfect.
Alright, so I get her point. But I’m not sure I agree. She says herself that we’d love to see real, untouched photos. And yet in the next sentences, she says we just have to accept that won’t ever happen, that products wouldn’t be sold by showing the real thing, and that most of us believe that attractive means un-natural perfection. I for one don’t want to accept that. I also hold on to the belief that if we saw models as they really are, we’d feel a sense of relief – that wow, they are human after all, which would make us feel better about ourselves. Sure, I’d love to have an airbrush artist follow me around, so every photo that is snapped of me makes me look amazing. But that isn’t reality. And I truly believe that if I saw some swimsuits, or clothing, on real people, and they made that real person look good, I’d be much more apt to buy that product — because it is real and much more believable. I know that I will never look like this young woman in her tiny tiger suit…. but consider this — if you saw a cute swim suit (probably not like this one) on an average-sized size 10 woman, and she looked great, wouldn’t you be more inclined to think “wow, I could look that good in that too!” ?
Call me crazy. But I’ll believe in, and have more admiration for, a real image of a real woman over faked perfection any day. Maybe some day we can turn the tide – even just a little.