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  • October 2009
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I know October is all about skeletons, but this is ridiculous.

modelskellie

images from flickr users perpetualplum and andre-batista

I don’t know how many of you have seen the Ralph Lauren advertising images currently causing a ruckus, but you must click to believe! The models’ heads are wider than their waists.

Coverage in: Photoshop Disaster

Shine blog at Yahoo!

The New York Times’ Ethicists asks: “Should Photos Come With Warning Labels?”

Not only are the photo-illustrations laughably not images of real human bodies, one of the models has said that she was recently fired from her contract for being too fat. Blogs posting pictures of the images were sent letters of warning from Ralph Lauren’s lawyers saying they were violating copyright and not covered under Fair Use laws.

It’s a widely-accepted view that most of the images in magazines these days went through some kind of manipulation. To me, that’s what is kind of funny about Ralph Lauren’s images. Everyone more or less accepts that they’re not being shown the truth. It’s kind of working against the brand to be so obvious about it–who is really going to covet a body type that can’t physically exist without the surgical shaving of hipbones? (Besides the sadly real need for “thinspiration” among those afflicted by anorexia.) The fact that Ralph Lauren then made a fuss about criticism of the images and wanted them pulled from blogs makes it even more absurd to me!

Sure, it’s insulting that those images ever got approved as a reflection of what the public wants to buy–and advertising is very often aimed at teenagers, whose income is, in most cases, disposable and will go towards new clothes, music, video games, etc.–but I think it’s much more dangerous when the subtler works of Photoshop slip by. For every obvious retouching scandal like Kelly Clarkson’s Self Magazine cover or Andy Roddick’s new biceps on the cover of Men’s Health, what else is slipping by and making you think “maybe it is Photoshopped, but only a little… why can’t I look that good?”

This debate, like the debate on whether only models of a certain Body Mass Index should be allowed on the runway, seems poised to go on and on without end. It always provides a fascinating debate on what advertisers think people want to see, what people say they find fashionable, and how the images we see all around us affect how we see ourselves.

FURTHER READING:

madeyoulookMade you look : how advertising works and why you should know by Shari Graydon: A primer on the mechanics of advertising

soyesterdaySo Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld : The author of the Uglies series tells the story of a kid who is paid by corporations because he knows what will be trendy before it is trendy. When one of his friends disappears, he tries to solve it and discovers “consumer conspiracy”.

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