For Teen Vogue, by Brittney McNamara.
Between filters and camera angles, anyone with a smartphone has figured out that there’s always a little photo magic happening when you see flawless pictures online, in magazines, and in advertisements.
Recently, an anonymous photo retoucher for Victoria’s Secret confessed to Refinery 29 just how much professionals are manipulating the pictures that we see in ads. Given that this is an anonymous source, we do advise you to take the below “inside information” with a grain of salt. However, here are a few crazy things we learned about what allegedly happens behind the scenes at a Victoria’s Secret shoot.
Those aren’t their real boobs
We all know the Victoria’s Secret look — somehow these very skinny models have perky and full boobs that seem to float magically, making our own small and droopy boobs seem a little sad. It turns out, though, the boobs we’re seeing in these ads are far from real.
According to Sarah — the name Refinery 29 gave the anonymous retoucher — models’ boobs are retouched both before and after a picture is actually taken. It starts on set:
“They put a push-up bra under the bathing suit. And we retouch out the bra...a lot of [staffers] would complain because they even did it with strapless stuff. When you’re wearing a strapless bikini, in no way, shape, or form [can] you have cleavage. It’s physically impossible with the way gravity works.”
That’s before they use Photoshop to make them look bigger. So, if you catch a model in real life, it sounds like her boobs might look a lot more like our own than we’d ever guess.
Those aren’t their real anything, actually
The models in Victoria’s Secret swimsuit ads have a lot of help. From padding to hair extensions, the models are altered even before they get in front of the camera. After, Sarah toldRefinery 29, retouchers give models fuller breasts, a rounder butt, and cover up any protruding bones.
It turns out, she said, consumers want to see skinny women, but they don’t want to see the reality of what being skinny looks like. Instead, we get this skinny-curvy hybrid that rarely exists in nature.
It doesn’t stop there, though. Sarah said sometimes retouching goes so far as to give models entirely new body parts.
“There’s a lot of the switching bodies up,” Sarah said. In one example, Sarah said she might be asked to give a model a different woman’s arms to make the pose look better. Crazy!
Models are hairy just like us
No, models don’t have access to some magical razor that gives them a shave so smooth and close that there’s nary an ingrown hair. It’s just Photoshop.
Sarah said that no matter what, armpits will appear grey in photos. Instead of even trying to get a close shave, Sarah said many models show up with hairy pits, letting the pros handle it when they retouch the pictures.
“They come to these photo shoots and, like, they have their arms up in the classic beach pose, and they have, like, hairy armpits. They all have stubbly pubes — all the normal stuff [non-models have].” It’s good to know they don’t have any special shaving secrets that we’re not clued in on.
All this aside, Refinery does note that some brands are already throwing Photoshop aside (look no further than the “Aerie Real” campaign). Others still are seeing pushback from consumers when they take things too far.
While most of us know on some level that brands use Photoshop and your favorite Instagram models heavily filter, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of that and instead think there’s something wrong with us for not looking a certain way. It’s important to acknowledge it for what it is — fantasy — rather than a standard to hold ourselves to. To read the full article, head on over to Refinery29.
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