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Digital anorexia

Weird Ralph Lauren has apologized, but that doesn't mean blogs or feminist groups are about to let go of the  grotesque retouch job on a fashion shot that makes the model's waist look like it was squeezed into an illegal torture device. Her hips appear narrower than her head, as blog Boing Boing pointed out, and her thighs look like they came straight from a classroom skeleton. The clothing company eventually confessed to the mistake, saying it was having a bad Photoshop day.

But now the National Organization for Women is demanding a further apology, to women everywhere for the company's alleged obsession with portraying extreme thinness, and preferably also to Filippa Hamilton, the model in the ad who was fired by Ralph Lauren after years of being one of its top models. Hamilton said the clothier found her 120-pound girth on a 5-foot-10 body -- translating to a size 4 -- too  bulky to fit into its sample sizes. The company denies that's why she was fired.

Meanwhile, the blogs are gleefully showing off another photo, reportedly also Ralph Lauren, showing a pretty model with a bizarrely thin, elongated, hipless body, like the aliens in "Cocoon." Never fear, E.T. Your short legs and dumpy midsection will never qualify you as a Ralph Lauren model -- that is, not without emergency Photoshopping -- but NOW is holding its fourth annual "Love Your Body" celebration next Wednesday.

Photo: On the left, Filippa Hamilton with digital liposuction; on the right, as she is. Credit: AP

-- Karin Klein 


Comments () | Archives (17)

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Finding Melissa

When the standard’s fake, it’s not surprising that you don’t measure up - and that eating disorders make the most of the insecurity. After suffering from chronic anorexia bulmia for 17 years, I am staggered by the irresponsibility and ignorance demonstrated by these ‘influential figures’. With airbrushing and photo-shopping lying to a whole generation, it’s no wonder that eating disorders are on the up – and that more people are being struck by this devastating illness. It is only through my recovery that I’ve been able to see just how off kilter the whole body image concept has become, as Finding Melissa explores.


I mean, the woman in the touched-up photo doesn't even look attractive! She's too thin! How could the designers think that an image of a woman who looks so out of proportion and gaunt will sell clothes? It's just so unappealing to me.
Thank goodness I have the clarity to distinguish what looks good and normal from what look downright weird and ugly.


She look like a walking candy apple. Her head is bizarrely disproportioned from her body. These people are supposed to be experts on image and fashion and they couldn't see how bizarre the model looked.


Why do the designers make their "samples" in unrealistic sizes? If their samples are to fit a "classroom skeleton", then of course, only emaciated models will be able to fit the samples. The designers' should, perhaps, observe the bone structure and figures of natural LIVE women.

K. Reed

Where was this picture released? I hope they pulled an 'Ugly Betty' and released it on accident, otherwise, what sick and twisted demographic are they trying to reach with this ad? I think the models broke into Photoshop and released it themselves as a sad, desperate cry of help!

Sharon S

It's too bad that the people who are in charge of fashion in this country hate beautiful women so much. If their size 4 can't fit on a woman who is 5'10" and weighs 120 pounds, then it seems to me that it's time to redesign their clothes.

Ron Larson

That is only half the story.

The image was originally blogged at Photoshop Disasters (http://photoshopdisasters.blogspot.com), a blog that makes fun of PS mistakes in advertising.

Ralph Lauren's lawyers sent Photoshop Disasters a DCMA notice demanding they remove the photo claiming copyright ownership of it. This is a clear abuse of the DCMA law. It was actually illegal since they posted it for social commentary which is allowed by the 1st amendment and the DCMA. Google, who hosts Photoshop Disasters, removed the image as required by the DCMA. And poor Photoshop Disasters, who has no money, could not fight RL's lawyers to assert their legal right to criticize the image.

So Boing-Boing took up the challenge, posted the image themselves, and told RL's lawyers to bring it on. RL backed down when they realized the had now picked a fight with someone who had guts, has some good lawyers as friends, and knew their rights.

Having backed themselves into a corner by trying to suppress this "news" by abusing the DCMA, RL had to issue an apology.

So: The other story is how this is one more example of the continued abuse of the DCMA by corporations to silence critics.


What idiot #1: did this to an otherwise beautiful woman and #2: approved the final product. Seriously, are they so removed from reality that they thought it was OK? The examples are so grotesque, I'm having a hard time believing it was an accident (apparently more than once as well).

Chloe' Cornelius

This is soo crazy. Its hard to remember how far from reality many model shots are. But its so important to remember. So that you don't want to throw up when you look in a mirror. So that you don't throw up.


I actually saw this on Photoshopdisasters.com and dismissed it as a fake thinking no one could have possibly thought this was real/ok/attractive.
I can't believe it really happened.
I am a former "plus sized" model. At 5'10 165 lbs and a size 12. I was padded from hip to chest to fill out the clothes I modeled. it was crazy. Now I am truly plus sized - size 16 and was told I am way too "fat" to model the clothes I actually now fit without the padding.

Ironman Carmichael

Talk about cutting off your nose! If anything, that Photo-shopped grotesque will repel customers.


Ron Larson: Very interesting info. Just wanted to clarify that I think you mean DMCA (for Digital Millenium Copyright Act), not DCMA (Defense Contractor Management Agency?)


No, Nilmat, of course he meant to refer to the Defense Contractor Management Agency. What are you, the acronym police?


Parents should not permit their daughters to buy or wear clothes made by Ralph Lauren. Adults should not buy Ralph Lauren made anything, until their models again represent normal human beings. Yes, size 4 is very thin. But to deep six a woman with is a size 4 because she is too big, is insane. Does that mean Ralph Lauren clothes only looks good on very thin women? Apparently so. Lauren claims this model was fired for other than size reasons. If that is not the reason, than state the reason, because we don't believe them.

There was a time when women corseted their bodies so tight in the waist, that they would faint, that they could not eat, that it is said, that some had their lower ribs removed. All of this was for fashion.

It is time for fashion to take into account the human body, and what is reasonably healthy. In some European countries, models must maintain healthy proportions, or they can't work. They still are thin, but not starving. Perhaps there will have to be some kind of work place rule for models with regard to BMI, that they can't drop below. In the mean time. I'll mention this to the young women in my family


Here is an idea how about Hollywood "power women" step up and boycott designers at fashion week who do not use "real" women on their runways.. Think about this the average dress size sold in America is 12. How about the designer meet in the middle and make their samples sizes a 6 instead of the 0-4.. Keep in mind Cindy Crawford (per the blogs) is a size 6 and would be considered a plus size model based on todays standards.. Hey Marilyn Monroe was a size 10!! Change needs to happen now (look at our president for goodness sake), change happens when we as a society demand it - consumers have choices - I would love to see women of all socio and economic backgrounds get together to send a message to these "designers" that their take on beauty is not reflective of "real women".


I can't help but to think how girls try to make themselves look like these anorexic figures. It's completely unattractive and I find it an insult for agencies demanding their policy of being a size 2. I don't think in order for us to be beautiful, we have to fit in a certain size and be a certain height. We are all different and unique in our own ways and we should be fine by the way we look. And about photoshoping this picture, how could the editors think this was a "good" shot by cropping the hips and thighs? Can't they tell it's completely unproportioned and totally unattractive. As a consumer, this doesnt make me want to be convinced on their product purchasing, at all.


My only beef with the beef these models are having is that they all know that since day 1 they've all been airbrushed/PhotoShopped. Is it okay to have every pimple, wrinkle, stretch mark and imperfect removed as long as it makes you look better? The standard for print modelling has never been based on reality, even the reality of being 5'11" tall and a size 4.



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