Photoshop: the Bad News & the Good News

In my last post I talked about the extensive work that goes into making models look perfect in order to advertise clothes for the average-looking woman. It just doesn’t make sense. Advertisers pick out the prettiest girls in the world, put them through hours of hair and makeup, set up the perfect lighting, get the best cameras, spend hours taking the pictures, and then, the icing on the cake, they photoshop those pictures. Voilà! Parfait!

But that’s not the end of the story.

Part deux begins when a normal girl/woman decides to look through a magazine or to watch some television. Now Prweb.com says that “72% of women wear size 12 or above.” So for some girls normal means a size 12, and, for others, normal means a size 2. Tomato. Tomahto. Potato. Potahto. But, you see the problem is that all women see the same thing when they view advertisements: perfect-looking size 0 – size 2 women smiling, flouncing around, and picking up all the men.

We can’t make specific commercials for each and every woman in the world. But can’t we at least expand the range of girls in the advertisements? Would that hurt?

I saw these photos of Diane Keaton via a thread on Reddit (advice: if you value your grades, time with your family, and sunlight please do not sign up for this website). Now Keaton is currently 68 years old. She’s allowed to look a little old, right? This is a picture from the Golden Globes which took place on January 12, 2014:

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No big deal. She looks like a 68 year-old should, right? Now this is a picture from a L’Oréal commercial that played during a commercial break for the Golden Globes on January 12, 2014:

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Unless L’Oréal is using an archived commercial from 1990, I’m pretty sure some heavy photoshop went into that commercial despite the fact that she already had hours of hair and makeup and the best lighting set up possible. Was photoshop really necessary? Why couldn’t she have just looked her age? She certainly would have appealed to the common woman more.

Now here’s a company that decided to take the opposite approach (this is the good news):

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In case you aren’t a female young adult, Aerie is a lingerie store that opened in 2006 as a sister store of American Eagle. They just released this announcement on Friday via their Facebook page. Take a look at the top two comments:

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What did I tell you clothing stores? What has everyone been telling you? If you would stop making your models look like these otherworldly perfect plastic dolls then people will see that you are real and genuine and they will want to buy your clothes more. Aerie was the first to figure it out. I’m interested to see who follows suit. Even if it’s just for the money, it’s a small step in the right direction.

Here’s the first video from the #AerieREAL campaign (released January 17):

And here are some photos from the campaign.

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The girls are obviously still in the top-tier for looks, but I didn’t see any ribs and I see some curves and even some moles. Besides, Aerie is still selling clothing to young adults so we can’t be too hard on them. Business is business.

But, overall, I love this campaign! It’s fresh, fun, and real. I even liked their facebook page, which I don’t do very often because who needs 100 “LIKE OUR PAGE” advertisements on their news feed? So thank you Aerie. You get a well-earned like from me (in addition to the 1.2 other million likes of course).

Get with the program L’Oréal! #AerieREAL

Aerie Twitter: @Aerie

Aerie Facebook: Aerie

Aerie Website: Ae.com/Aerie

TED Talk: Looks Aren’t Everything

If you’ve never heard of TED talks, then stop reading this and visit this link. You’re back already? Don’t you feel smarter?

TED talks are brilliant. They encourage creativity and innovation in politics, religion, and culture in general. Yesterday I saw the one titled ‘Looks aren’t Everything. Believe me. I’m a model.’ and I squealed with delight (not really). But I didn’t know just how relevant it would be to this blog. I have been trying to put my specific purpose for this blog into words and here it is via Cameron Russell’s closing statement in the above video:

“If there’s a takeaway to this talk I hope it’s that we all feel more comfortable acknowledging the power of image in our perceived successes and our perceived failures.”

That’s what I want. Like I said yesterday, we will never get 313.9 million individual Americans to forget about outward looks. We are biologically programmed to be attracted to and to respond better to physically beautiful things. But I think that we often ignore this issue. Sure we talk about the cruelty of the modeling business on girls’ self-esteem. But that’s about it. What about bias in the workplace? in dating? in receiving free stuff? in getting a traffic ticket? in getting frisked at the airport? Just because there isn’t a solve-all solution doesn’t mean an issue isn’t worth exploring and trying to understand.

Still don’t think it’s a real world issue? Listen to a few of Russell’s current statistics. In 2007 a student counted 677 models. Only 27 were non-white. “Of the 140,000 teenagers that were stopped and frisked [in New York], 86% of them were black and latino.” I know I’ve mainly been talking about the benefits given to attractive females, but there it is. This problem is so much bigger than most people are willing to acknowledge.

I want to leave you with another quote that I found particularly insightful and will be making a full post on later this week:

“There’s very little that we can do to transform how we look. And how we look, though it is superficial and immutable, has a huge impact on our lives.”