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Old 21st February 2012   #1
Join Date: December 2011
Posts: 40
Default Assembly-line emaciation

I found this passage in the article that Meredith recently posted to be especially important.

Sam Richard, who serves on the YWCA Maricopa County board of directors, said . . . said girls need to understand that these photos aren't all real. Someone has airbrushed out the model's [skin], or put a woman's head on top of a computer-generated "perfect" body.

The rubbish about "perfect" bodies is offensive, but in case anyone thinks that he's just randomly conjecturing about computer-generated bodies, he's not.

In a case that attracted a fair bit of media attention late last year, the retail chain H&M was outed for doing just that.

It actually Photoshopped models' heads onto fake, computer-generated bodies.

Minus-size models' emaciated frames are so artificial-looking anyway that I suppose this was the next, inevitable step toward complete media insanity:

All that griping about how models' slender proportions are completely unrealistic? Turns out they are literally unrealistic -- as in, they are totally fake.

H&M has been sticking real models' heads on computer-generated bodies.

Another source:

The bodies of most of the models H&M features on its website are computer-generated and "completely virtual," the company has admitted. H&M designs a body that can better display clothes made for humans than humans can, then "dresses" it by drawing on its clothes, and digitally pastes on the heads of real women in post-production

The results are truly grim. The models look like they've been manufactured on an assembly line. The Judgment of Paris has often talked about how dehumanizing androgynous modernity is -- well, here's the physical proof that it literally is dehumanizing, as human beings have been replaced with synthetic replicas. This is the kind of Kafkaesque horror that a person would expect to read about in a dystopian novel.

For me, the worst part isn't even that these Frankenstein bodies are so cookie-cutter uniform. This inhuman extreme is where the fashion industry has been trending anyway. The absolute greatest insult is that in choosing the template body, H&M chose a frame without any trace of feminine fullness. It's not just that the body is artificial and inhuman, it looks artificial and inhuman, due to the complete absence of feminine flesh.

This article includes some pithy put-downs of the practice:

“It is disrespectful and lazy." Michael Flutie, the creator and cast member of E!’s newest model search reality show “Scouted,” tells Fox411. “It is [also] dangerous, especially for teenagers who are led to believe that manipulation and the alteration of bodies is acceptable.”

Chloe Angyal agrees.

“We already live in a culture where the gap between what we’re told women’s bodies should look like and what women’s bodies actually look like is wide enough to drive a truck through. The practice of digitally slicing and dicing these models to cobble together a vision of female beauty that is literally impossible to achieve in real life is widening that gap still further,” she told Fox411.

“Defending this practice by pointing to store mannequins doesn’t strengthen the case for this practice: most store mannequins are so slender that if they were real women, they wouldn’t have enough body fat on them to sustain menstruation," she said. "That’s not healthy, and neither are the crushingly unrealistic beauty ideals that H&M is reinforcing.”

Thankfully, at least one commentator has the sense to point out that not only is H&M propagating curve-o-phobia and body hatred, but that, far from being perfect, these Photoshop horrors are visually repellent:

“One issue is that they're doing this and not making a disclaimer, essentially trying to pass off this digital body as a real one. Another is that it's one stock body - suggesting there is only one ideal body type and shape, which is bad for already poor body image in young women. And the third seems to be that it's aesthetically off-putting,” Farrah Bostic, the creative strategist and founder of The Difference Engine digital strategy and design company, told Fox411.

Therefore, she adds, this is not only colossally unethical, it's bad for business:

To put unrelatable, uncanny, or cringe-worthy women (real or fake) in those clothes only distances women from the shopping experience and from the clothes themselves. These uncanny valley thinspiration models are clearly a distraction from the clothes, and make it harder - not easier - to imagine yourself in them. And that, quite simply, doesn't sell,” Bostic says.

Precisely. What kind of clothing does H&M think it's selling, if it's unfit to be displayed on any actual living women? So who is supposed to wear it?

It's not the luscious curves of plus-size models that would be "distracting" from the clothing. It's the freakish emaciation of these android frames that actually is distracting. ALL minus-size models distract from the clothing by their horrific, corpse-like appearance.

So in reference to Meredith's article, yes, I think a warning label on such a flagrant case of false advertising would be most welcome. Laws like the one under consideration in Arizona need to be passed, and nationwide.

And this practice of trying to foist cadaverously skinny frames -- whether computer-falsified or achieved through starvation -- as the normative look for women must end.

Last edited by HSG : 23rd February 2012 at 18:35. Reason: URL updatd
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Old 23rd February 2012   #2
M. Lopez
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Join Date: August 2005
Posts: 587
Default Re: Assembly-line emaciation

God help me, this seems to be a trend.

Pointing out the appalling abuses of the minus-size fashion establishment is always a mug's game, as it simply gives publicity to the offending brands, which is exactly what they want. But the following is such a noxious case that it demands to be condemned.

In a typical practice whereby so-called "diversity" (the most mendacious word in the modern lexicon) means anything except actual variety, Levi's has now published an ad claiming that "Hotness comes in all shapes and sizes," while showing - you guessed it - just one, single, underweight body type - a body type, in fact, with no shape and no size.

At least this absurdity is earning some condemnation.

The salient points:

Levi's new ad for their line of customized shape-fitting jeans has come under fire for combining an empowering message about size and body image with slim models.

The ad which preaches positive body image saying "hotness comes in all shapes and sizes," ironically uses three models of very similar, slender body types. None of the models represent the average size 14 American woman.

Advertising watch dog Copyranter wrote a blog post on Wednesday calling the new ad an insult to all women larger than a size six.

"The company doesn't seem to understand what 'different' means," Jezabel's Anna North agreed. "See, 'hotness comes in all shapes and sizes,' as long as those shapes are minute variations on the same thin, ponytailed woman."

With the case of H&M's computer-generated fake body fresh in everyone's minds, I came to the same conclusion that North did:

At first North said she thought the three women actually were the same model, just "Photoshopped to have slightly different boobs and butts."

"A closer look at the profiles reveals this probably isn't the case, but it might as well be. The ladies' bodies are so alike that the claim that they represent "all shapes and sizes" is ludicrous," she said.

Two important conclusions can be reached from this situation, apart from the obvious and well-known truisms that (a) advertisers hate and suppress plus-size bodies, size 14 and up, and (b) that they consciously generate outrage in the media to garner free publicity.

The more important conclusions are these:

1. Parroting cheap, lazy platitudes such as, "Women come in 'all' shapes and sizes," or "'All' sizes are beautiful," or "We need to see models in 'all' sizes," will yield ZERO results. The media will simply co-opt the slogan and produce the same cookie-cutter, assembly-line, uniform body frame it always has.

Ask for "all," and you'll get none. Ask for plus-size to be just one of many, and it will be nowhere. Invisible.

Instead of this, the emphasis needs to be on plus preference. The emphasis needs to be exclusively on the full-figured body. That's the only way that any representation for actually curvy women will be achieved at all.

Forget hazy universalism. Focus your attention particularly and specifically on representation for the plus-size body.

2. Asking for "diversity" is nothing but a distraction. As the H&M example shows, advertisers have no problem colouring a synthetically created size-0 frame a different skin colour. All they care about is that the frame looks sufficiently anorexic. They have no problem with older models either.

The one thing that they do not permit, that they truly exclude, is the plus-size body. Therefore, vague "diversity" pleas give the media too easy an opportunity for an easy misdirect. "We're being diverse," they can claim, by shading their corpse-like waifs many different hues.

What must be asked for, exclusively and specifically, is greater visibility for actual plus-size body shapes, if they are to be present in the media at all.
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Old 25th February 2012   #3
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Join Date: September 2006
Posts: 120
Default Re: Assembly-line emaciation

Just as robots replaced human workers on the automotive assembly lines, robot-like digital images have started replacing human models. We cannot let companies get away with this. Contact retailers and let them know what you think of their abuse of retouching and digital technology. Demand that companies carrying plus-size clothing display those items on plus-size bodies. If enough of us speak up, we cannot be ignored.
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Old 8th July 2012   #4
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Join Date: January 2010
Posts: 188
Default Re: Assembly-line emaciation

I came across an interesting article recently, cleverly titled "Confessions of a Retoucher."

In this piece, the writer notes the case of a professional airbrusher who has suddenly had a welcome change of heart and has become concerned about the damage that the images that he retouches are doing to the body image of young women worldwide. Here's his Web site, featuring a video in which he explains his change of heart.

He proudly calls himself a "traitor to the media machine" and admits:

I’m a part of the media machine that has suckered you into thinking that you need to look like this "flawless" person who does not exist anywhere in the world. You then feel unhappy with how you really look, so you buy the products that the person of "perfection" is using in the image that I retouched.

I was out with a friend at a popular apparel store. The store had several images of their product all over the store that I had worked on. I mentioned this to the young woman that was helping us and she looked at me in disbelief and wanted to know what was done on the images. I pointed at one image and explained that I had cleaned up every square inch of that model’s skin, brought in the bulges from where the bra and panties were tight on her hips, torso and shoulders, thinned down the sides of her body to give her a smooth hourglass look, and even changed the color of some of the garments. She was horrified. She told me that she had no idea and that she came to work everyday thinking that something was wrong with her because she didn’t look like the girls modeling the clothes in the pictures. I told her that everything that she sees in print media has been retouched, especially women in ANY ad, and reassured her that she looked fine…the MODELS don’t even look like that.

The retoucher also notes that his change of heart has come because he fears the influence that such images can have on his own daughter, 11:

My daughter is 11 now. She’s old enough to internalize what she sees. I think she’s beautiful inside and out and I’d hate to think I had anything to do with making her dislike herself. . . . What about all those other girls, young women and ladies that have no clue as to how the images they see affect them?

It's wonderful that at least one such individual has had a change of heart and is considering the ethics of what he is doing. If only there were more.

The only caveat I'd made to the valorization of eliminating airbrushing is that it is still only a sideline cause -- though a worthy one -- in the quest for size celebration. Having magazines feature, say, airbrushed side-20 models who actually looked like a size 20 would do more for the pro-curvy cause than non-airbrushed androgynous size 4s.

However, this airbrusher's heart is very much in the right place, and behind this campaign there is clearly a rejection of the androgynous, anorexic standard.
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