Stretching: the new way you're being tricked by photos

Vanessa Raphaelly is a publishing guru in South Africa. We first met when we were editing our respective editions of Cosmopolitan at one of the mag’s international conference back in the nineties and a lifelong friendship sparked immediately.  Even if we live in different countries and never see each other in person. Vanessa now is the editorial director of South Africa’s leading women’s magazines including Oprah, Cosmo and Marie Claire. So there’s some context for this post which originally appeared on her brilliant blog, Hurricane Vanessa .

-Mia Freedman, MM editor/publisher

Maybe you guys can help me out here. My friend Mia emailed me a while ago and, in the midst of a general vent about how unrealistic she finds the images of women’s bodies, in women’s magazines, she mentioned that she believed that photographers are actually stretching the (already insanely) long and thin models, to make them appear even more long and thin.























“Oh Mia,” I thought. “Models are just born that way. They are freaks of nature, they are tall and they resemble spaghetti. No-one needs to stretch them. You are over-reacting. Hush now.” But Mia is not normally a woman of unconsidered opinions. And she is a keen observer of social trends. So while I wondered if she was a little more steamed up about this issue than I thought it deserved, I started to keep an eye out for images that might prove her point.

… and look what I found. This chick, of course, is noteworthy because, even though she is dressed in sample size Givenchy (My guess: Size 2 at most,) she is wide enough to hide an entire half a golfer behind her hips. And to my naked eye, she does appear somewhat … stretched.



















What about this one? Also from Givenchy’s “Pre-Fall” range (Pre-Fall??? That is so insane as a concept it demands robust discussion itself, but in order to keep on point, I shall leave that for another day.)


















What about this? Now anyone who knows can tell you that Anja Rubik (for it is her) has unfeasibly long legs, but doesn’t her torso look a bit improbable, to you, too?























Hm. They all look stretched to me. Another thing to complain about, if it is indeed so. It’s one thing to have to accept the body shape of the tiniest minority of the world’s population as the Gold standard of good looks, and Photoshopping every flaw, bulge and wrinkle is of course commonplace. Would it be a surprise if these images were indeed put through the pasta maker and streeeeeeee-tched?

I am glad to tell you that I have decided, (without THAT much help from you all,) that Mia was quite, quite correct.

Ergo, I am not bananas, or paranoid. (Yay.)

And, as if more evidence was really needed, this image of the wonderful, accomplished, talented and most famous Australian chef and author, the wonderful Donna Hay, arrived in my mailbox, this am.


























It is clearly not enough that she is super successful has revolutionised the planet’s food styling, has launched an empire and written 100 books and lost two dress sizes.

The chick needs to be stretched to resemble the pasta she so artfully creates.

Still not sure you agree?

Here’s Mia: “You know how you tell? Look at the measurement from ankle to knee. Then look at the measurement from ankle to waist.

If this was real, Donna Hay (who I greatly admire) would be 7 foot tall. At least.”

Case closed, IMHO.

Oh I so love agreeing with my friends and myself.

Take a look through this gallery of  Photoshopped images:

Vanessa Raphaely is Editor of South African Cosmopolitan and Editorial Director of Associated Magazines, publishers of Marie Claire, O, The Oprah Magazine and House and Leisure. Visit Vanessa’s website here.


Mia writes: I know that some people will say “who cares?” “so what?” ” shut up”. But I think it’s vital we educate ourselves and our friends and our daughters – and sons! – about how to ‘read’ the images we see in the media. It’s vital we start understanding and realising that the bodies and faces we see DO NOT EXIST. Share this post and help spread the word.

Imagine if every magazine and billboard had images of naked men on them and ALL the penises were photoshopped as extremely as this? How fast do you think there would be a law about mandatory declaration of Photoshop then?