Can We Eliminate Fashion Photo Retouching?
I am aware that everybody under the sun has written about this topic. Everybody has said everything that could possibly need saying about airbrushing models in fashion photographs. Everyone is pretty sick of hearing about the whole thing, so why am I bringing it up again?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why it needs saying again. I’m not sure why I should be the one to say it, a twenty-year-old girl with very little intellectual influence over the world. What I am sure of is this. Since retouching has been raised as an ethical issue, nothing much has changed for the consumer. Yes advertising campaigns might say that they airbrush fewer of their images or hire a higher percentage of women with slightly larger frames, but the reality is that – for the reader – things have remained pretty much the same.
Most women are aware somewhere in their mind that photos in magazines and advertising have never been left in their natural form. It’s certainly knowledge that I have had since I was old enough to read the small print under Mascara adverts that say “Model wears lash inserts.” We all know that models are airbrushed to make them thinner, lighter-skinned and to have their wrinkles removed. It’s not news to anyone, yet I don’t know how many women ever read a magazine with this knowledge at the forefront of their minds. The magazines are still into the habit of brushing this reality under the carpet.
This seems bizarre to me. In today’s society, a society in which we are reminded during every cinema trip that this film contains “mild language and sex references,” and that the opinions and views expressed in interviews do not necessarily reflect those of the company conducting them. In other areas of society, companies are so determined to protect themselves from anyone getting angry, that they are incredibly explicit in their processes and legalities. However, I have never seen a magazine start with the disclaimer “the images and advertisements in this magazine may have been digitally altered, and the bodies shown in these images do not necessarily reflect the bodies that these models own in real life.” It’s led me to wonder why this is.
I think it’s because the fashion industry know that they can get away with it. When this topic is raised, people have increasingly started defending it by saying “I don’t know a single woman that wouldn’t be thinner if she had the option.” This is a rather general statement and there will be exceptions to the rule, but I think the statement is probably true to some extent. I think the statement is probably true BECAUSE of images like this. So, if this is the defence AND the cause, we have really got ourselves into a bit of a pickle haven’t we? Why is this vicious circle allowed to continue?
It’s because we do not get angry enough, and maybe some people don’t think we should be angry, which is fair enough.
But I am angry and I don’t have any enlightening new information to divulge that people have never heard before. I don’t have a clever insight into the world that allows me more information than everyone else has. The reasons for my anger are reasons you have all heard before.
I’m angry because these images do not represent women or even just thin women or even just thin and beautiful women. These images represent a computer.
I’m angry because the industry still pretends that these images represent women, and we believe them and strive to achieve what they present womanhood to be.
I’m angry because achieving that goal is impossible because even the woman in the image can never look like the image.
I’m angry because our idea of beautiful is not inclusive. Because our idea of beautiful all looks the same. Because our idea of beautiful isn’t even beautiful anymore.
I’m angry because Calvin Klein have just hired their first ever ‘plus-size’ model, and she is a UK size ten – two sizes smaller than the national average. When my mum was a teenager in the seventies and eighties, she was considered skinny at size ten, and I in the new millennium am considered ‘plus-size’ at size ten.
I’m angry because the idea of discriminating between ‘plus sized’ models and ‘normal’ models disgusts me.
I’m angry because we should not be seeing girls aged ten that suffer from anorexia.
I’m angry because I should never have to worry about whether I look fat in those jeans, I should just WEAR THE DAMN JEANS.
I know that there are some people that disagree with me, but I am firmly of the belief that airbrushing images in the fashion industry to make them unnaturally ‘beautiful’ is damaging to our society. I personally would love to see a world in which magazines have to write a disclaimer stating that the images used in their product have been digitally altered. Let’s see then what the fashion industry’s attitude to such images is.
I am calling to all of you that agree with me. If you don’t think the magazines and the advertising campaigns should be allowed to get away with this, get more angry. Fight back more. Be more vocal. If you think that magazines should have to state whether an image is airbrushed or not, tell them that. If you think that size ten is not plus sized, tell them that. If you think that we should be seeing a wider variety of size, shape, race, and age in magazines, tell them that.
We at Eat More Cake want to hear what you think and what you want to see changed. If you do contact any magazines or advertising companies, let us know! We’d love to hear what you think.
Let’s all just make a little bit more of a fuss, it’ll be worth it.