Look at this original image of Karlie Kloss. Now look at the image the magazine ran...


Pores. Wrinkles. Cellulite. Freckles. Sunspots. Pigmentation.Pimples. Stretch marks. Poof! Gone!

It’s been years since we’ve seen anything even remotely resembling an actual human in a magazine. Overwhelmingly, even the thinnest models are routinely stretched, elongated. Size 6-8 women (and girls) have their waists carved into, their thighs and hips shaved and their arms sliced…..all so they will look even thinner and conform to some warped Barbie ideal of how women are ‘meant’ to look on Planet Fashion.

So surely the fact that Photoshop is also being used to make models look fatter is a sign of progress, right? Actually, wrong.

Let’s walk through this.

Take a look at this image of model Karlie Kloss. The original photo (right) shows Kloss with her arms out stretched, ribcage jutting out. On the left is how the magazine ran it, ribs airbrushed to be less skeletal.

The move has angered the photographer of the images, Greg Kadel – with his studio e-mailing this response to the magazine’s retouching:

“It was Greg’s desire to represent Karlie as she naturally is … slender, athletic and beautiful. That is why he released the images as he intended them to be seen by the public. He is shocked and dismayed that unbeknownst to him, Numéro took it upon themselves to airbrush over his original images. Greg stands by his original artwork and cannot stress enough that he not only was unaware of the magazine’s retouching but also finds the airbrushing of Karlie unacceptable and unnecessary.” 

It’s not the first time one of Karlie Kloss’ images has caused controversy. Vogue Italia deleted this image (pic right) from their website after it received a negative reaction to her perceived anorexia, some over-zealous photoshopping and her “contorted” hips.

The first the public heard about this magazine practice was in 2010 when Jane Druker, the editor of UK’s Healthy magazine, admitted to retouching a cover to make the model appear larger to fit in line with the publication’s ‘healthy’ brand.

The cover girl had apparently arrived at the shoot looking “really thin and unwell” and instead of a finding a replacement, the model’s face was airbrushed to look plumper and more radiant.


So why wasn’t she just sent home? Surely there are enough models to go around that magazines don’t have to rely on sick or drastically underweight ones?

Former Cosmo (UK) editor Leah Hardy explains to MailOnline:

“There are people out there who think the solution is simple: if a seriously underweight model turns up for a shoot, she should be sent home. But it isn’t always that easy.

A fashion editor will often choose a model for a shoot that’s happening weeks, or even months, later. In the meantime, a hot photographer will have flown in from New York, schedules will be juggled to put him together with a make-up artist, hairdresser, fashion stylist and various assistants, and a hugely expensive location will have been booked.”

Worrying fact:  “reverse retouching” is common and widespread practice even though some high profile fashion editors have spoken out against it. Creative director of Vogue, Robin Derrick admits “I spent the first ten years of my career making girls look thinner -and the last ten making them look larger.”

Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue on the industry’s use of skinny models: “I have found myself saying to the photographers, ‘Can you not make them look too thin?”‘

Although these editors probably assume they are doing the responsible thing by smoothing out protruding rib cages, airbrushing over concave stomachs and adding flesh to underweight models, the problem exists that we – the reader – don’t get to see the brutal truth of being drastically underweight. The protruding bones, the downy hair that grows over your entire body when your body fat drops perilously low, the hollow cheeks, the sallow skin……etc

We’ve said it many times and we’ll keep saying it until something changes: photographic images of people that have been retouched to alter body shapes MUST be disclosed.

How else can we possibly trust the images we see and have any sense of what ‘real’ female bodies look like.

NOTE: This is not about demonising thin women. It’s about honesty, transparency and social responsibility within the fashion and magazine industries.

Take a look at some of the fashion industry’s most ridiculous photoshop fails:

What do you think about this image being airbrushed?