Tuesday, June 14, 2011

LOVE in the time of dysmorphia

Frockwriter thought it seemed a little odd that Britain's Love magazine removed last Tuesday's shot of Australasian model Catherine McNeil from its Twitter feed. Originally published on the Condé Nast-owned magazine's TwitPic account (a photo hosting service connected to Twitter), together with the caption "Catherine McNeil is back!", the Tweet was nowhere to be found on Thursday. Coincidentally, earlier that day, we had published the original - apparently unretouched - series of digital shots of McNeil that were taken by McNeil's New York agency, Ford Models - and which had been supplied to Love earlier in the week. But while the shot slipped off Love's Twitter feed, the image had already been reposted by several web forums and blogs, including frockwriter and remains cached on Google images. Oh, and Love also neglected to remove it from the magazine's separate TwitPic feed. What's problematic about this shot? Could it have anything to do with the fact that a quick comparison of the two images suggests some Photoshop magic has been worked on McNeil's left arm? The version published by Love is on the left, above, with the original on the right. 

screen cap of LOVE magazine's twitpic

supplied by ford models

So, who retouched the image?

Difficult to say at this stage, given that neither Love editor Katie Grand nor Ford Models have responded to our communications. 

Just a reminder that McNeil, one of Australia's most high profile models, has been having a bit of a break from the modelling business for the past 12 months. According to Ford, however, McNeil is fit and high fashion-ready, having been "working really hard to get herself together. She's really determined"

But apparently not sufficiently 'together' for Love's purposes. 

Clearly someone retouched the photo. If indeed it was Love, then of course by no stretch of the imagination would this be the only fashion magazine in the world to have manipulated an image to make a model or celebrity look thinner than she/he is in real life. It's the kind of endemic practice that has become a key focus of such charters and groups as Australia's National Advisory Group on Body Image, whose voluntary industry code of practice recommends the disclosure of all digital retouching. 

Meanwhile, Katie Grand's peers are dedicating more and more space to special body image-focussed editions. 

The June edition of Vogue Italia stars three plus-sized models and separately, Vogue Italia editor Franza Sozzani has launched a petition to combat pro-anorexia websites that encourage young women to be competitive about their body shape. The magazine claims to be attempting to promote healthy beauty standards and to help impress upon young women that being skinny does not equal being perfect.


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