Creating the illusion of good health: ‘Reverse retouching’ models touches off more controversy

Now that magazines are adding plumpness to models through ‘reverse retouching,’ maybe the industry’s attitudes about weight are changing, right?

Not so fast.

Back in May of this year, when VOGUE* agreed under pressure not to hire underweight models, it seemed there might be a shift afoot.  Many hoped it signaled a new recognition that looking and being healthy, rather than impossibly thin, should be the goal both for models and the young women who emulate them.

So when it came to light recently that many glossies like Vogue, SELF* and NEW YORK MAGAZINE* have been enhancing the curves of their cover girls, some may have wondered if voluptuous, Rubenesque figures were making a comeback.

After all, just look at the appeal of celebs like Beyonce, J-Lo, Kim Kardashian and Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, none of them waif-like.

But reverse retouching is hardly new, and apparently signals nothing more than another unattainable physical goal: to have the legs, arms and torso of a competitive marathon runner, while sporting the bustline of a nursing mother with twins and the apple cheeks of a young child.

Even Barbie couldn’t match that.

And it’s more than simply adding cleavage, or enhancing someone’s booty to create the perfect hourglass figure.

In an article which appeared in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper this spring, Leah Hardy, a former editor at COSMOPOLITAN*, revealed common the practice has been, and how things haven’t changed that much.  She detailed the way technology is used to soften the harsh, jutting bones of models’ sternums, collarbones and shoulder blades, laid bare from lack of normal body fat.  Sunken cheeks and eyes are photoshopped to appear bright and healthy.  Dull hair and skin is digitally revitalized.

Of course, she argues, then the magazine-reading public never gets to see that it’s impossible to be both sylphlike and buxom, or more importantly, malnourished and healthy.

Here is a link to the full article:


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