“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,”the famous quote by international supermodel, Kate Moss. For anyone who’s ever tasted the sweet glory of a cheesy crust pizza, or a decadent doughnut, that was your cue for a well-deserved, sophisticated chuckle. Yes, the majority of us simpletons may find this statement as more entertainment than philosophy, but to what extent does being skinny still reign true in the way we perceive beauty, and to what extent is fashion photography responsible?
Increasingly, the fashion industry is experiencing an increased public demand for more diverse employment of models, especially regarding the models’ sizes, height, race, weight and shape. With the reaction against the trend of starving models and the fast-growing emergence of body acceptance, comes the rise of plus-size fashion boutiques and the models to match. However, it can be seen that fashion photographers have been using photo manipulation techniques to disguise the very parts of the models that make them plus-size. In some cases, the manipulation is done before the photo is even taken, with smaller models wearing padding to appear to have a fuller shape. Resulting in size 20+ women with absolutely no cellulite, belly fat and/or stretch marks. It would almost appear that the photographer simply stretched an image of a thin model. These constructed images (as seen in the last set of comparative images) are not representative of plus-size consumers’ bodies and thereby inserts insecurities in consumers to alter their bodies for the sake of fashion, once again.
Due to digitally manipulated fashion images, consumers are lead to unrealistic expectations, disappointment and decreased self-esteem when comparing themselves to these dramatically reconstructed images. As visible from the comparative images below, fashion photographers have shifted from a rejection of fat and the desire for an underweight body, to now promoting an unrealistic, flawless plus-size body free from all the realities of being plus-sized. It’s swapped one fantasy for another and both are detrimental to mental health…but I suppose, since consumers can’t purchase sound mental health, then maybe Calvin Klein will have to do.
Expectation vs Reality of plus-size online shopping (Buzzfeed 2015).
In Fashioning Fiction in Photography, writers Susan Kismaric and Eva Respini commented on the implications of constructing fictional fashion images stating,
“These fashionable fictions are no longer confined to the commercial codes of the magazine but, rather, have social, psychological and cultural implications beyond the hermetic world of fashion” (Kismaric and Respini 2008, 45).
In summation, the detrimental perpetuation of unrealistic body types and rejection of fat in plus-size fashion is strong via image manipulation. Fashion photographers are not the only ones who are responsible. The issue is deeply embedded in our society as we still see thinner as better, which is in turn, reflected by fashion photography. It is, however, the responsibility of fashion photographers and those involved with editing these images to consider the ethical consequences of their secular and narrow-minded perceptions of beauty, which is outdated and out of fashion…or at least it should be.
Written by Sarah Channer.
Foronda, Macey J., Watson, Sheridan and Kristin Chirico. “What Plus Size Clothes Acutually Look Like On Plus Size Women.” Buzzfeed. Last Modified 22 April 2015.
Kismaric, Susan and Respini, Eve. 2008. Fashioning Fiction in Photography, 2008. London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 45.
Someecards. 2016. “Some Love.”
The Devil Wears Prada 2006 Film. Bayer, Heidi. 2014. “My Favourite Movie Quotes.” Pinterest.