By: Joanna Douglas, Senior Fashion and Beauty Editor (Oct. 19, 12)
Do the images present in the Victoria Secret Swimsuit advertisements represent a completely unrealistic message? Absolutely. Even the Victoria's Secret models themselves feel their retouched bodies are pure fantasy. Yahoo Style correspondent Fashionista spoke with Victoria's Secret model Erin Heatherton on the subject, and she said it's up to us, as scrutinizing individuals, to understand the difference between what women really look like and an airbrushed image in an advertisement or magazine.
"Retouching is an essential part of our job, you know," Heatherton told Fashionista. "We're not selling reality; we're selling a story. It's all about creating this fantasy. And I don't think people should confuse fantasy and reality because no one is perfect – we all know that, and I think people should embrace themselves and not really focus on where people are depicted as perfect and where they're not." When it comes to how these photos may affect one's body image, Heatherton felt strongly that this issue should be discussed in schools and at home. She said children and adults need to establish their own confidence and self worth, and recognize that published images are enhanced just like special effects added to a movie.
We find Heatherton's perspective quite honest and true. It's unfortunate that we must come to accept that most photos are altered, perhaps just as we're realizing many actors enhance their actual bodies with things like Botox. Personally, we'd love to see real, unretouched photos, and to see women looking like humans and not bizarre, Gumby-like creatures with rubbery limbs and no flaws. But we also have to remember that brands are trying to sell products, and as technology continues to change, they will do whatever it takes to create the most attractive image possible. Nowadays "attractive," to many people, means unrealistically perfect. Despite the controversy, the backlash, and the occasional refreshing unretouched batch of photos, altered images-in professional or even personal settings-are the future. So like Heatherton says, we may as well get comfortable with them and learn to understand the difference.
We reached out to Victoria's Secret to discuss their stance on retouching and the before-and-after photos of their supermodels, but they have not yet returned our request for comment.