Fashion models are, for the most part, a thin group of people. They must remain thin or else be out a job because for the most part no fashion designer wants a heavy model. This fact has become for the most part accepted in the fashion industry. However, we can see from a photo shopped ad of Filippa Hamilton, a fashion model for Ralph Lauren, that thin may no longer be enough. Ralph Lauren photo shopped the already thin Hamilton to be unnaturally skinny. Photo shopping of women in this way is bad because it causes women to compare themselves to a standard of beauty that is quite literally fake and in Filippa’s case completely ridiculous.
The Ralph Lauren Blue Label Ad in question depicts model Filippa Hamilton in a clearly photo shopped manor. The photo shopping in the ad made her appear so thin that her head appears, and almost is, as wide as her hips. The editor additionally made her mid-section ridiculously small and made her legs much thinner than they actually are. The model herself was displeased with her portrayal in the ad saying that”I saw my face on this super extremely skinny girl which is not me and it makes me sad. It makes me think that Ralph Lauren wants to have this kind of image and I think it’s an American brand and they sponsor the Olympics and they sponsor healthy women and it’s not healthy and it’s not right.”
This type of photo shopping does much more however than just make Filippa look way too thin. First, the demographic for the ad, as it is a young women’s clothing label, is young women. Young women look up to fashion models and seeing a portrayal that is unhealthy or completely unrealistic due to photo shop is not good for their perception of their own body image. In her paper If looks Could Kill: Digital Manipulation of Fashion Models Shiela Rieves discusses how scholars have linked the so called “thin ideal” to the growing problem of eating disorders(Reaves). These scholarly studies however were based on the impact of exposure to real models, not models photo shopped into thinness as in this Ralph Lauren Ad. As a result, Shiela Rieves conducted a study to show that photo shopped models can have a worse effect on young womens body image because young women are “internalizing digital fakery” (Reaves 3) when they look at these ads. What happens then when a young fifteen year old girl attempts to look like a model from a magazine, such as Hamilton, and starves herself for a body that isn’t even humanly possible? Even the American Medical association has begun to recognize the damage that can be done by using photo shop on print models. They announced that “Photoshop can contribute to unrealistic body image expectations, eating disorders and other emotional problems.” (Diller)
While many models may be thin, they are least a real person. Ads such as the Ralph Lauren ad are not only unrealistic, but given that they are being implemented to sell clothing to young impressionable women they are also morally wrong and have the potential to cause serious problems. Instead of photo shopping models to be ridiculously thin, models who are naturally beautiful and take care of their bodies through exercise and a healthy lifestyle should be used instead of thin models made thinner with technology. And in the event that models are photo shopped, there should be a label on the magazine letting the poor fifteen year old girl know that her idols head is only smaller than her hips because a Photoshop technician made it that way.
Diller, Ph.D., Vivian. “Is Photoshop Destroying America’s Body Image?” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 07 July 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-diller-phd/photoshop-body-image_b_891095.html>.
Reaves, Shiela. “If Looks Could Kill: Digital Manipulation of Fashion Models.” Journal of Mass Media Ethics: Exploring Questions of Media Morality (2009): 56-71. Web. 22 Oct. 2013. <http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1207/s15327728jmme1901_5>.