Just as fashion is seasonal and cyclical — giving you new things to love and purchase every few months— the outrage against the industry manages to update itself with equal urgency. Whether it is racism (black models getting lesser work than white models), ageism (teenagers and even pre-teens on runways), or size-ism (real women on the runway please, the more curves the merrier), issues asking the industry to get real and realistic constantly abound. And yet, nothing changes.
Sure a few things seemingly do. A new law in the USA says interns must get paid to get your morning Starbucks and carry your suitcases (Sorry Miranda Priestly, you’ll have to find something else to make you famous today). Some countries in Europe demand an age-limit under which girls are not allowed to work in fashion. But these instances are few and far between, and are quickly forgotten when the next little speed bump comes along.
The latest, is showing your outrage against Photoshop. When I began writing and designing pages, I thought Photoshop was the most miraculous invention since colour TV. You could make cut-outs, lighten skin, remove a prop if it didn’t work, wipe out a pimple or even eye-bags. In terms of graphic design and page making, it was a technical blessing. But the rage continues. A recent boo-boo comes up in Ann Taylor’s Loft campaign where the model’s waist has been trimmed in such a manner, she looks like a mutant. Another is of Kate Upton in the American Harper’s Bazaar, where her armpit has been mistakenly erased so her shoulder and arm are partially disconnected from the body. All these technical glitches or human errors cast aspersions on negative body types that magazines reinforce.
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This is where the bunkum brigade gets under my skin. Saying the glamour world promotes an unhealthy body image is akin to saying feminism is the right to promote an unhealthy body. No one’s denying fashion is an unrealistic ideal, escape and fantasy are its very definitions. Sure you can wear a bikini if you’ve got a muffin-top, and you should, but don’t blame a magazine’s cover girl if you are too shy to do it. Crow’s feet are charming, as is a deep laugh-line, but if you’re OK, we’re OK.
Consumer surveys reveal that women and men will buy a magazine if the cover photo is an attractive one. There is a science to it, everyone wants to get one step closer to prettiness as they can. And this is why fashion magazines and their thigh-gapped models are coveted. Much of the outrage is thanks to the internet. We’ve all become cultural watchdogs and social commentators, never mind what’s in our fridge. The right to diss is the right to free speech after all.
What this unfortunately means is our levels of tolerance are dipping to fundamentalist levels. We view everything as either politically correct or satanic and there is no in-between. We completely eliminate the delicate layers of a human mind or emotion which is naturally attracted to beauty.
Photoshopping is not bad, bad Photoshopping is.