Friday 6 February 2015



A well-known department store over on this side of the world has published several shots of a bikini model in which they show how a photo is retouched and to what lengths magazines/advertisers go to achieve this image of perfection. On the heels of this, this store also proclaims that from now on they will be using non-airbrushed photos to launch their new swimwear line. Their goal: to sell just as many swimsuits whilst showing a ‘real woman’ in one of their suits than one that looks like she came from planet perfect. The funny thing is, the photo they show as a before photo, the woman was thin, in shape, and attractive and didn’t need much help to look better.  So in short, we're still using models who clearly take care of themselves and have good genes, and don't spend all their time sitting on the sofa shoveling in potato chips as they watch Jeremy Kyle. 

I suppose I’m now wondering what the definition of a ‘real woman’ is; is a real woman indeed the one in the photo who looks after herself? Or the one I saw stumbling out of the pub last night with a tank top two sizes two small squeezed over her ample beer belly, or is it the woman on the corner that sells The Big Issue (a local magazine over here sold by the homeless) who is missing three of her teeth. Trust me, I make no judgments here, the woman is very sweet and is trying to make her way in this world, I’m just wondering who is defining a real woman these days and what exactly that entails? And furthermore, how much realness do we really want to see in our ads? Cause trust me, I see REAL every time I go into a changing room under that florescent lighting and it scares the crap out of me!

On the other hand, let's be honest, clothing looks better on tall thin models who are hot. That's the truth, and I can take it. In fact, I’m not sure I want to see women ladened with cellulite trudging down a runway like a Clydesdale as they do their best to squeeze into some haute couture number. Fashion - to me anyway - is a world of fantasy, (have you seen some of those outfits, who would wear that stuff anyway??) I know that these women are starving their asses off - and I like food far too much to starve - but damn can they make a dress look good. I also understand that if you don't quickly realize that you have to work with what you've got, you're going to have one tortured existence. I'll never be Amazonian like most of these women, but I'd like to see any of them wrap one of their legs around their neck - I may be short, but I'm bendy as hell. And that my friends can be a definite asset. :-)

Don't get me wrong – along with millions of women out in the world – I do my fair share of retouching before I leave the house. (Studio Fix by Mac, how I love thee!) But what has been happening for some time is that retouching has gone from a few simple fixes - remove some cellulite here, a dark circle there - to an all out whitewash that makes the model or celebrity look like some wax-like freak with skin like the Velveteen rabbit, who doesn't exist in nature.  The funniest photos are those of the celebs over 40 that end up so bleached and wrinkle free, that their faces look like they’ve been blasted into oblivion. And the irony, the next day you’ll see a real photo of them out and about clutching to their oversized glasses that cover half their faces and they look nothing like their photo. Cause well, they're human and humans AGE. Trust me I wish we could get around this, but it's not going to happen anytime soon.

It's a business, and there is product to sell, so I understand the clients wanting to put their best foot forward. But I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not buying so and so's latest night cream cause Julia Roberts looks like a five year plastic doll old in her photo. I’ve been around long enough to know that most creams don’t do squat. In fact, I think I’d be more compelled to buy a product if the photo showed me a woman who had a few wrinkles, some eyebags for good measure, and then showed me how this product helped cover up some of that damage. Here's a campaign I could get behind: "Do you look exhausted, those wrinkles and sun spots starting to show? Here's a cream that won't work miracles - cause honey you ain't 20 anymore -  but at least people won't turn and run from you screaming in the supermarket." Now that I could get behind.

Copyright © 2014 Anthea Anka - Delighted And Disturbed