Reality Images

All over the world millions of pictures are taken every day. We, as humans, see these images and think how beautiful they are, eye opening, scary, or whatever the case may be. We are quick to see these and fall into the traps that are presented before us.

Clothing companies have taken a big hit at altering their images for a “better looking” model. For example, Target has been in the crosshairs of retouching their images a lot. Most of the time these changes are subtle, but sometimes it’s very noticeable, and for some reason we are much more inclined to accept the subtle changes; a small shrinking of a waist line or a spot remover of a blemish, but when there’s a whole chunk missing out of a girls leg so the two don’t touch in the thigh area the world has a hay day.

A big movement right now is a love your body campaign. A couple of major retailers have taken this on like Victoria’s Secret and Aerie (an undergarment/swimsuit spinoff of American Eagle). For these campaigns, they claim that the images of their models in commercials or pictures have been unretouched. They’re real images, of real girls, with all different body types. But as Rosenberg says:

“There is no sharp easy line between photos that are ‘manipulated’ and those that aren’t; there is a spectrum of practice, and when a photo is cropped or artificially lit or color-adjusted or sharpened or filtered in any way it is already being manipulated.”

Anyone who owns a smartphone knows that simply changing the exposure or the brightness on a picture can change it drastically. If we want to encourage young women to be happy with their bodies as these campaigns endorse, but at the same time are sharpening and filtering photos that make these women “glow” in a way they normally wouldn’t, is the campaign false or flawed? The claim of “no retouching” might be partly true; but at some level the photo was, in a very simple way, manipulated. Is this breaking the rules, so to speak, of unretouched photo campaigns?



2 thoughts on “Reality Images

  1. I love Victoria’s Secret. I shop there frequently. But I think that their Love Your Body campaign is a joke. They refuse to carry larger women’s sizes. I also find it highly unlikely that they don’t alter their ad images. I think people can sense their insincerity. I believe that if they are falsely claiming that their images aren’t retouched, they are doing more harm than good. Then they’re basically telling young girls that these images are what beautiful is and it is completely false. They would be setting unrealistic expectations for beauty that teenagers will never meet. This would cause more harm to their self-image than if VS had left us to wonder if they were retouched. I think that the entire campaign is misleading. VS and AE are meant to exclusive. That is their allure. This campaign is a farce to garner positive PR.


  2. Yes – good point: to say that some photos are “true” and some “false” is to rely on the positive connotations of “truth” and objectivity when in fact, even the very nature of the choice to take this or that photo of a subject is a subjective choice on the part of the photographer. Every photo is both “true” and “false” at the same time.


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