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

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Dear Models, Please Eat. Love, America

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Kylie Bisutti won the 2009 Victoria Secret Model Competition. She beat out 10,000 other tall and beautiful girls and got to walk in the famous holiday Victoria Secret Fashion Show.

But, in February of 2012 Bisutti gave up her enviable title as a Victoria Secret model because she said that it was conflicting with her religious values.

Bisutti recalls the exact moment that she had a change of heart. She was “laying on a bed in little clothing while a photographer encouraged her to pose more provocatively.”

“That’s when it hit me. I was being paid to strip down and pose provocatively to titillate men. It wasn’t about modeling clothes anymore; I felt like a piece of meat,” Bisutti writes. “The next day, I broke down and started sobbing. I was in my bedroom and dropped to my knees and started to pray. ‘God, why did you have me win the Victoria’s Secret Angel competition if it was going to make me feel this way? I’m not honoring my husband. I just want answers!'” (yahoo.com)

This year she released a biographical book about her experience with Victoria Secret titled “I’m No Angel” in reference to the top VS models who are dubbed ‘Angels.’

In this sort of tell-all book she talks about the desperate measures models take to stay thin:

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“I pretty much restricted my diet to oatmeal, fruits and vegetables to meet runway expectations. I’m 5-foot-10, and I got down to 115 pounds with measurements of 34-24-34. In February 2007, New York Fashion Week was approaching, and while everyone I knew was being sent out to auditions, I wasn’t. “Why am I still going on test shoots?” I asked my agent. “It’s because you look like a fat cow right now, Kylie. You need to lose 2 inches off of your hips,” the agent said. After cutting my diet even further to just pineapples, watermelon and liters of water while exercising two hours a day, six days a week, I finally dropped down to 108 pounds, which satisfied my agent, and the gigs started rolling in.

I moved in with four other models on the Lower East Side. One of my roommates was so bulimic she would involuntarily throw up when she ate. She would go to sleep crying every night and just look at herself in the mirror thinking that she was so fat. And she was so thin.”

To emphasize just how thin Kylie got I calculated her Body Mass Index.

Normal Adult BMI = 18.5 – 24.9

Underweight BMI = less than 18.5

Anorexia = less than 17.5

At 115 pounds Kylie’s BMI = 16.5 (anorexic)

At 108 pounds Kylie’s BMI = 15.5 (anorexic) 

I mean people always say that models have anorexia nervosa and bulimia, but I always thought that the problem was exaggerated in order to make us normal-sized girls feel better. But there it is.

So let me just break this down real quick. The clothing industry needs to show how clothes will look on a real person. I think we can all understand that. All companies need relevant advertisements. But, in order to advertise their clothes for women they:

1. Scour the nation for the most naturally beautiful, tall and lean women that they can find. Model Scout Lanny Zenga says he travels to “music festivals, concerts, a lot of place you’ll see young, good-looking people” (fashionista.com)

2. Tell these already naturally beautiful women to spend their time exercising and dieting to look even thinner. On nymag.com Alison Boxer – a contestant on Australia’s Next Top Model in 2010 – says, “It was a shock to the system to be told I needed to lose weight. At home a lot of people say I’m too skinny. I was 50kg at one stage, which I thought was a bit scary. So I was coming from a place where people were telling me to gain weight, to now people saying I should lose weight.”

3. Put the models – who are already in the top 5% of our nation for looks – through hours of hair, makeup and wardrobe. Hopefully you’ve all seen the “Evolution of Beauty” video from DOVE.

4. Take the photos from the beautiful models who went through hours of hair and makeup and photoshop those images to make them even more unattainable. Click through some of these ‘before and after photoshop‘ images from magazines.

Yep, that makes sense.

So about that self-esteem problem in our nation. . .