Ralph Lauren Size 4 Model Fired For Being Too Fat

If sample size is 0-2 and plus-size starts at size 8, size 4 models are out of work. Such was the case for Fillipa Hamilton. The beautiful model found herself out of a job when, she claims, Ralph Lauren fired her for being too fat. (Representatives from Ralph Lauren assert that she was let go for not fulfilling her contract.)

Calling a model "too fat," at size 4 is alarming particularly because at 5'8" and a mere 120 pounds, she's a healthy weight for her body type. But if this episode is any indication, the industry doesn't want you to be healthy, just thin.

Enter Photoshop. A Ralph Lauren Blue Label ad that ran in Japan featured Hamilton photoshopped within an inch of her life. She looks like a completely different species, or a Bobblehead doll. Her head is larger than her hips; her legs resemble that of a 12-year old; her waist is impossibly thin. It looks disturbing, unnatural and unhealthy, and sadly, that's what many girls who view the ad aspire to look like. "I was shocked to see that super skinny girl with my face," Hamilton told the Daily News. "I think they owe American women an apology, a big apology," she went on. "I'm very proud of what I look like, and I think a role model should look healthy."

I agree that no matter one's size, healthiness is key. But it seems many bloggers and critics are using this incident to condemn the industry's use of airbrushing in general. Photoshop has long been one of the magazine industry's not-so-secret secrets. Having worked behind-the-scenes in this business for a few years, I've seen pictures of the most famous, familiar and beautiful people covered by orders in red marker: "even skin out" "remove blotches" "whiten teeth" or "add or remove fullness in the bust (yes, they add breasts altogether. See January Jones' magically increasing bustline on the cover of GQ below)."

Many times the images are altered so much that the subjects are unrecognizable. Or odd retouches are made, like Kim Kardashian's skin being lightened for her Complex Magazine cover spread. I've voiced many times that I think such excessive photoshopping is unnecessary and troubling, though I do see a (slight) need.

There's an increasing pressure to be perfect in an industry where celebrities/models are ripped apart for an ashy knee or back roll (remember what happened to Tyra when her picture at the beach, un-photoshopped, hit the web). In a culture where real people even Photoshop themselves to put pictures on Facebook, can we criticize retouching as a whole? My opinion is that it becomes problematic when a person's likeness is manipulated to the point where he/she is unidentifiable. And it certainly shouldn't be used to perpetuate fashion's unhealthy obsession with thinness. What do you think?



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We say we want to see "real" women sans the photo shop and yet when we see celebrity women actually looking real we're so critical. I doubt it'll ever change but I appreciate people like you who wrote this articles. It does help put things in perspective and remember celebs are still human and have flaws.

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