Victoria’s Sceret has been one Photoshop disaster after another for the memorable past. Unfortunately, one of their blondest Angels, Erin Heatherton, dropped by the Golden Heart gala earlier this week and had to answer for some of the brand’s sins. She acknowledged that there is indeed lots of editing at work, though didn’t go so far as to call it what it is: flagrant, relentless, occasionally grotesque. To Heatherton, it’s much more like CGI.
She told Fashionista:
I think it’s people’s own prerogative to be able to look at something and know the difference between ‘this is what someone looks like with makeup on’ and ‘this is what they look like in real life’. This is what happens when you do a photo shoot; retouching is an essential part of our job, you know. We’re not selling reality; we’re selling a story. It’s all about creating this fantasy. And I don’t think people should confuse fantasy and reality because no one is perfect–we all know that, and I think people should embrace themselves and not really focus on where people are depicted as perfect and where they’re not. So, I think it’s kind of a waste of time.
Right, but, Erin… everyone in the world is selling that story and, sooner or later, people might be persuaded to think it’s the only story worth telling…
Fashionista pushed a little harder and asked, “What type of message does it send” when the actual body is altered–microscopic rolls removed, waists whittled, arms thinned out etc and Heatherton continued:
It’s not a fair message, but at the same time I think we’re all intelligent enough to know the difference between what’s real and what’s not. I think that’s something that children should be taught by their parents, it should be taught in schools. Healthy body image is not something that you’re going to learn from fashion magazines. But at the same time, Photoshop makes things look beautiful just as you have special effects in movies. It’s just part of life and I think that you’re missing the main problem. I think the main issue is people just knowing their own body, having strength in their own body image and their own confidence, which shouldn’t be affected by these kinds of things.
Heatherton is either missing the point or deliberately obfuscating it; we all know it’s not a matter of intelligence at all. Yes, obviously fashion magazines aren’t going to teach us healthy body image, but that shouldn’t give them license to teach toxic body image either. Moreover, the solution to the manifold problems of the fashion industry shouldn’t be everyone just have more confidence–though that’s a nice message coming from someone so conventionally goodlooking that Leonard DiCaprio dates her.
Anyway, it sounds like Heatherton’s stance on Photoshop has softened considerably since the last time she was asked similar questions. She’s much more on-brand now.