Great, Now Models Are Being Photoshopped to Look Bigger
It’s no secret that celebs and models who appear in magazines and advertisements have their likenesses retouched — sometimes heavily. In the past, this retouching seemed to focus on making them look thinner and bustier: flattening the natural curves of stomachs, sharpening jaw lines and turning regular-sized upper arms into sticks. All this sharpening and whittling promoted an ideal body type that was difficult, or even impossible, to achieve.
Now, as former Cosmo editor Leah Hardy wrote back in 2010, the industry standard is changing. Instead of average-sized or thin models being Photoshopped to look even skinnier, already-thin models are being “filled out” in post-production. At first glance, this might seem to be a good thing. Yay! The media is promoting a healthier, more attainable body image for women!
Except it’s not. The women in the photographs are still extremely thin, but the less attractive aesthetic features that accompany that thinness are being erased.
Take these pictures, for example:
The women in them are extremely thin — so much so that their ribs jut out. Most of us wouldn’t look to these pictures as examples of healthy, attainable body types. And yet, with a little bit of Photoshop magic, they’re simply slender, dainty women with elfin features. They’re still just as tiny as they were before, only now they look healthy.
Of the women whose photos appeared on the pages of Cosmo, Hardy wrote, “Thanks to retouching, our readers — and those of Vogue, and Self, and Healthy magazine – never saw the horrible, hungry downside of skinny. That these underweight girls didn’t look glamorous in the flesh.”
The simple solution to this problem seems to be for magazines and advertisers to book a diverse range of models with a variety of body types. But according to Hardy, it isn’t that simple. She wrote that models who were healthy looking at the time of booking frequently showed up to shoots (which were sometimes booked months in advance) looking gaunt and emaciated. She also placed blame on the designers whose clothes were featured in the photo shoots, saying that the sample outfits they sent were “tiny.”
Obviously we have to take Hardy’s testimony with a grain of salt. Anyone who’s ever read Cosmo knows the magazine isn’t exactly known for its body acceptance, and it seems like Hardy’s trying to place blame on everyone but herself. But her testimony does speak to the fact that it’s not just one person, or one feature of the media, that can be held accountable for the proliferation of unhealthy body types. It’s up to everyone to make it stop.