Thursday, October 8, 2009

Retouching Fashion Cover Shots For Profit


OF ALL THE THINGS I see running across my computer screen, nothing startles me more than this kind of creepy image featured on Drudge today from a recent Ralph Lauren ad. The linked story is mainly about the accusations that the model's image was grossly photo-shopped and criticisms that Lauren made her look impossibly thin. Of course this is nothing new, but what is new is the fact that our fashion elites are now being called on the carpet for it.

Leading the charge against Lauren is Boing Boing, an Internet site that sometimes takes gross-exaggeration-in-advertising to task. Lauren has cried foul, saying no one can use the above image, even for the sake of criticism. So far, Boing Boing has not backed down from Lauren's intimidation tactics. Good for them. And look here, even Drudge and little Webutante have the nerve to use this airbrushed image too.

Meanwhile, surely a legal scuffle is in the offing which I want to follow it. However, this all begs the larger questions of making people unrealistically thin, young, beautiful and sexy on the covers of magazines in order to sell stuff.

First, let me say I hope that the image of the young model above IS altered. Because if it's not, surely her family and friends need to do an intervention and get her in an eating disorder program immediately, if not sooner. To say she looks anorexic would be a gross under statement. To say she looks like she's suffering from late-stage AIDs is also an under-statement. What sick and demented minds design and edit these images for public consumption, especially the public consumption of impressionable young girls?

Second, does anyone really think she's attractive? I have to wonder if even the Lauren target-market of young puerile pre-teens and teens really, really, really think it's appealing either. And if so, we as a culture need our heads examined as to how we've let ourselves and them be brain- washed into such distorted thinking and images that are supposed to define beauty.

Finally, how can this nonsense be stopped, or at least slowed down? I don't buy anything by Ralph Lauren and haven't for years, but I certainly won't now. I also won't buy anything that has Lauren advertising if I can help it.

This kind of backlash is also happening across the pond:

The U.S. isn't the only place where advertisers are feeling the public backlash over retouching claims. Overseas, a recent Olay ad featuring a virtually wrinkle-free 59-year-old Twiggy caused such an uproar in the UK that the British Parliament recently proposed outlawing retouching in advertisements aimed at teenagers.

But it isn't just teenagers who are getting a fake image in false advertising. How about these Oil of Olay ads aimed at women like us? Take a look at a current Twiggy ad and the real Twiggy at 59. Quite a difference wouldn't you say? I never used Olay products, but you can believe I never will after this silliness.

And what's wrong with some imperfection anyway? Nothing is so bad that a little sunshine, fresh air, exercise and healthy eating won't help. It's always better than airbrushing. Image of Twiggy at 59.
Reality shot of Twiggy at 59 at the grocery store. I'm sure she's still beautiful and much more so than this bad photo shows, but still, this is a long shot from the image above. No thank you, Oil of Olay!


mRed said...

As an apprentice for a fashion photrapher in Manhatten (1975 - 76)I was humored by the continuos vanity and hypocracy of some in the business. Working for HIRO I got to meet the Rolling Stones when we photographed them for their Black and Blue album. The photograph used for the fold out cover was touched up by a master of Renaissance proportions who flawlessly erased their skin flaws making them actually look healthy.

Webutante said...

Wow. What an interesting resume you have. Of course all this retourching started with us, way back when.....

gcotharn said...

First, I would bet my nickel the Ralph Lauren people originated the legal case in order to stoke controversy which will get their name more into the consciousness of consumers. I especially suspect this b/c their legal case seems incredibly weak and spurious.

Second, no man thinks the model is attractive. NO MAN. Maybe some poor naive girls think so. I'm reminded of the 5 footish Marisa Tomei. She gained 20 pounds for a role, and said she was suddenly far more attractive to men, and attracted notably more male attention than ever before - so much so that she had almost determined to keep on most of the weight. Sadly, Marisa couldn't stand the way she looked in clothing and onscreen with the extra weight. She lost all the weight, and maybe more, and now has an emaciated and unattractive look. I always thought Marisa a short yet attractive woman. B/c of her emaciated look, I no longer think of her as attractive. A shame.

Third: "and what is wrong with some imperfection, anyway?" I just saw, today, this from Leonard Cohen: "Everyone has cracks. It's how the light gets in." He was speaking, mainly, of emotional wounds. However, it fits just as well with physical characteristics.

Fourth: How many beautiful famous people have you seen in person? Probably some. I've seen a few fashion models - women and men - of whom I thought: Wow. Greek goddesses/gods. So tall, so beautiful/handsome, they seem almost a different species. However, I've seen actresses who, in real life, are just regular looking girls. Their onscreen beauty truly is the result of lighting and make-up magic, if not also digital manipulation. It's fantasy, fantasy, fantasy. Real people are often as physically beautiful; and frequently, I suspect, more interesting and beautiful in the ways which count.

Webutante said...

I agree with all your points, Greg. Thank you for making them. I find the last one most salient to my own middle-aged experience. So many younger perfect beauties are one-dimensional and dull.

In our world, beauty and good looks are a bonus. But without the inner light, it counts for nothing in the medium and long-terms.