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Move over airbrushing, there’s a new gold standard in town

September 10, 2012

Just when we thought models couldn’t get any skinnier, just when we thought that flawless skin and smooth flesh (thanks to airbrushing and Photoshopping) were bringing us all down, they step it up a notch. Computer technology has reached the point where fashion models are no longer needed to sell fashion.

SmartMoney is reporting “Swedish fashion retailer H&M and French flash-sale site Vente-privee… both use computer-generated models in their advertising.”

These computer generated models LOOK like supermodels, only better somehow. There are no asymmetrical features, no hair out of place, no pores. Just perfectly even ears and eyes, and no  flaws… but, also, no real people. Instead, the “perfectly sculpted vision of the female body remains the same from image to image.”

These are not real people showing what the clothing will look like on real people. This is a character made from a computer program using real model heads and digital bodies.

Here are a few examples of these now “perfect” models, and they look like real women, not something drawn from the bowels of a designer’s imagination.

Does the fashion industry even think about who they are selling to? I know that their research shows that if we feel bad about ourselves, we buy more, but what about the lives of the people  they sell to? Studies also show that these kind of unrealistic expectations have been linked to the exploding rise of eating disorder in the past 10 years.

The unrealistic expectations that people have for their bodies is already damaging, and electronic models takes this to a new extreme. Advertisers are now creating a new, unachievable level of fake beauty. Designers claim they’ll save money by not having to dress models in various outfits and not having to set up a photoshoot.

Spokeswoman for H&M, Nicole Christine, explained the practice to ABC News in December 2011:

This technique can be found in use throughout the industry. This is not to be seen as conveying a specific ideal or body type, but merely a technique to show our garments. It is regrettable if we have led anyone to believe that the virtual mannequins should be real bodies. This is incorrect and has never been our intention. We will continue to discuss internally how we can be clearer about this in the information towards our customers.

However, I don’t think I have heard a word out of H&M disclaiming that their models are virtual.

Retailers need to realize that we need to see real clothing on real bodies to make a choice. As consumers, we need to start voting with our wallets, and STOP giving money to those designers that, intentionally or accidentally, do harm. While  it may be all about saving money for the company and its bottom line, the perfection inherent in computer generation is damaging to the very consumers they are trying to market to.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2012 1:01 pm

    And here we have illustrated the inherent problem with the fashion industry, where from all of these body issue woes stem from. They essentially want a hanger with a head to display their clothes. To them, the clothes are an art form and not actually meant to be worn by humans. So for years they have been moving towards this “hanger with a head” and now, through technology, they can finally eliminate the messy humanity from the equation. If only people would wake up and see that they are being manipulated into believing this claptrap. Art is art and is meant to be displayed. Clothes are viewed as art by designers and don’t actually have any basis in reality. Thus we have a society built on unrealistic expectations.

    • September 10, 2012 3:07 pm

      I just wish they would admit it more openly and not be so……sneaky about it. from the shots i found in mt research it was pretty weird to see the same heads be on different bodies in different clothes…but the same HEADS, with the same exact hair and smile. TELL us this isnt real and i dont think i would have such an issue with the whole thing.

  2. fatology101 permalink
    September 10, 2012 1:32 pm

    Maybe the future of this will turn out to be a good one. When it becomes known that these “women” are all computer generated, society will get fed up with it. Maybe one company will step out and use real women once again and I dont mean skinny ones. We can only hope.

  3. September 10, 2012 2:47 pm

    It’s good to hope but I think we still have a way to go into the insanity before it finally breaks.

    • September 10, 2012 3:08 pm

      maybe at some point the optimal BMI will be so frail that the average woman wont be able to give birth anymore.

  4. September 10, 2012 3:09 pm

    Sadly, and I don’t have the time to find this right now, but studies have shown that clothes modeled on “ideal” bodies sell way better than clothes modeled on “real” bodies.

  5. September 10, 2012 7:30 pm

    KP…that’s only because only some clothes are modelled on real bodies…when all clothes were modelled on real bodies, nobody objected and said, wait, I want a fake body to model that item so I can pretend that I will look like that…studies are what you make them to be….any information can be modified and manipulated….everyone needs to stop drinking the purple fucking Koolaid! Sorry…I get irate when people don’t bother to think and just blindly follow what “everyone” else does! Sorry KP…wasn’t specifically yelling at you.

  6. September 10, 2012 9:23 pm

    Great post Erylin and of course it is infuriating. And what do we expect in a world that uses electronic images for people and is taking cartoon characters and turning them into emaciated looking women. Have you seen the petition re: Disney promoting negative body images to kids?

  7. vesta44 permalink
    September 11, 2012 11:02 am

    Pretty soon they won’t even use real women’s heads for these models – they’ll go the route of that movie, Looker, that starred Susan Dey, where they took women, ran them through a computer imaging machine, synthesized the perfect woman, and used a computer- generated model of that woman to make commercials. I’ve hated commercials ever since I saw that movie – it brought home to me how commercials are used to manipulate us into buying crap that doesn’t work and we don’t need for problems that don’t exist (and won’t fix those “problems” anyway). I despise people who think they can manipulate me into buying crap I don’t need or want just because they say I have a need/want/problem that they can fix. They don’t know me, how the hell do they know if I have that specific need/want/problem? I’m not a generic consumer that fits whatever stereotype they have of consumers, so they’ve lost my dollars right there, and they’ll continue to lose my dollars as long as they treat that way – and that applies especially to clothing retailers!

    • September 11, 2012 12:23 pm

      I’m with you on that one Vesta…..

    • September 11, 2012 3:56 pm

      I liked that movie, though – it was WEIRD!

    • violetyoshi permalink
      September 12, 2012 2:11 pm

      I have to watch that one, I love Sci-Fi films. It sound similar to this film S1m0ne (, where after an actress leaves a production, they create a virtual actress who then becomes a worldwide celebrity. It was created by the same director who directed Gattaca, another great sci-fi film.

  8. LittleBigGirl permalink
    September 11, 2012 2:44 pm

    I don’t think the “low self-esteem=high purchasing” applies to clothes, at least not if your bad feeling is related to body image – if I feel crappy about my body I don’t cloth it in designer clothes – which wouldn’t fit me anyway. The only merchants who benefit from my low self esteem are Ben & Jerry, and whichever pharmaceutical company manufacturers my antidepressant. 😛

  9. September 11, 2012 3:56 pm

    This is why I only give my dollars to Goodwill for clothes!

  10. The Real Cie permalink
    September 12, 2012 11:05 am

    Personally, I like imperfect people. They are more interesting. Manikins are boring and a little creepy.

  11. violetyoshi permalink
    September 12, 2012 2:07 pm

    And Rod Serling rolled in his grave.

    • September 13, 2012 12:06 pm

      I just spit out my tea.
      All I could think of was that this was a Twilight Zone episode. Or perhaps Outer Limits? God help us all.

      • violetyoshi permalink
        September 14, 2012 10:13 pm

        You mean Size 12 Looks Just Like You from the Twilight Zone? It’s positively eerie how right Rod Serling was, about how in the future women’s bodies would be marketed like an item you could buy off the shelf.

  12. lifeonfats permalink
    September 14, 2012 7:56 pm

    I also thought of Looker after reading this post, and if you’ve never seen the movie, I’m about to post a spoiler a bit further down so look away.

    The models whose images are run through the computer are then murdered by the company that runs the computer because they’re considered liabilities. Extreme, but Michael Crichton, who wrote the book the movie was based on, was pretty ahead of his time when it came to consumerism and advertising. And it’s pretty creepy.

  13. September 17, 2012 10:08 pm

    There should be a warning on these. That’s just wrong. Not a real body, you have to say so.


  14. September 20, 2012 6:27 pm

    I did a blog piece on this revolting practice by H&M earlier this year. It drives me bonkers they can do this. I would love to see clear disclaimers on photoshopped and artificial images. Will I get my wish? never

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