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Flicking through the pages of a fashion magazine or scrolling past an ad online for any beauty company, often a tall, gorgeous and painfully perfect woman is featured fronting the campaign. It has become a fact of life that these models are photoshopped beyond recognition, and yet that simple knowledge does little to comfort the young and vulnerable women and girls that view these images.
However, there was one recent incident that didn’t cause envy, but rather amusement as the extensive photo editing was highlighted plain as day. W Magazine’s October issue, a special tenth anniversary issue, featured models of the moment Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid. These two young women are naturally beautiful and arguably not in need of any digital touch ups. Hadid in particular has spoken out on previous occasions when she has seen her body photoshopped without her permission and against her will.
Last month’s magazine cover was peculiar on many levels, from the campsite setting to the colourfully futuristic outfits and ridiculous props – adorable puppy aside – but most prominently, both girls seemed to be lacking a crucial body part. Wearing dresses that featured an asymmetric hemline and thereby revealing their legs, the girls posed with one leg in front, the other behind and slightly hidden. This is where the Photoshop fail occurs. On both Jenner and Hadid’s front leg, their knee has been edited out and seemingly removed. The result is reminiscent of a Barbie doll’s leg; a long thin piece of plastic meant to resemble a leg.
We’ve all done it, over edited an Instagram post by turning the contrast up just a little too high. But that’s what friends are for, peering over your shoulder and telling you to calm down on the X-Pro filter and stick with Valencia. How then, can a team of apparently professional photographers and editors not see the glaringly obvious error in making two of the most popular young celebrities knee-less?
The mistake only gets worse when you compare Kendall’s front leg to her just-visible and unedited back leg. Twice the width and still possessing muscle mass, the model’s leg is a stark contrast to that of her prominent and kneecap-less leg.
Delving further into the magazine, Gigi can be seen in another image with a scarily thin arm that is missing an elbow. It’s rather like that time Professor Lockhart accidentally removed all of Harry Potter’s bones.
In a statement given to Buzzfeed, W Magazine defended the shoot saying, “The images of Kendall and Gigi are part of a project by artists Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin, who are known for their deliberate use of digital technology, combining distortions with makeup and prosthetics.”
So perhaps the Photoshopping was intentional…? But unfortunately for me, and many others who have expressed their views on Twitter, that’s just not good enough. According to the Huffington Post, social media is affecting the health and education of young girls nationwide as it has been scientifically found to have a direct link with causing depression in young girls. Further to this, in a study conducted in the US, 53% of thirteen-year-old American girls were unhappy with their bodies. This number grew to 78% by the time the girls reached the age of seventeen. But are those statistics really that surprising when young girls are being shown unrealistic portrayals of what it means to be beautiful?
Many brands are taking active steps away from Photoshopping, in a more positive direction towards honestly displaying models. In an unprecedented move, Victoria’s Secret released a promotional shot for this year’s ‘Fantasy Bra.’ The star of the campaign is VS Angel Jasmine Tookes and the images make no attempt to hide her stretch marks. Instead, the model proudly shows off the so-called imperfections sending a reassuring message that even Angels – or at least the Victoria’s Secret kind – are human.
The topic of Photoshopping has been the centre of heated debate in the fashion industry for some time now and I’ve only dipped a toe into the discussion. But for W Magazine the apparent trend is clear. Joints are so over, who needs kneecaps when you have fashion?!