Face and neck slimmed; under-eyes smoothed and lightened; teeth whitened; waist pulled in; arms slimmed; legs made thinner; stray hairs tidied; cleavage enhanced. Sounds like a page out of John Hughes’ script for Weird Science, right… two nerdy teen boys’ fantasy plan for creating the “perfect woman”? If only. Sadly, it’s a PARTIAL list of what gets done to images of professional models before we, the consuming public, get to see them in ads.

When this level of visual manipulation and post-production, digital trickery is used on photos taken of women who naturally appear to have already won the genetic lottery, it’s no wonder that 70% of women (and 40% of men) report feeling pressure from television and magazines to have a perfect body… the “perfect” that has been defined and imposed on us for decades. C’mon, we can’t ALL look like Kelly LeBrock, circa 1985.

Kelly LeBrock as the Perfect Woman_Weird Science movie 1985This idea of marketing manufactured and unattainable perfection should not be news to ANYONE, but we’re happy to report that one major retailer is bucking the system and saying, “no more!” While we wish this news was about a US retailer, we’re hoping one of them will follow suit with what Debenhams, a UK based, leading international, multi-channel retailer, is doing to show its commitment to promoting positive body image… using un-airbrushed lingerie photography, relying on the natural beauty of models to make their product look great.

Founded in the eighteenth century as a single store in London and boasting 240 department stores across 28 countries today, Debenhams is no stranger to keeping things real when it comes to marketing. The retailer has long been dedicated to its inclusivity campaign, which is all about making women feel fabulous about themselves rather than crushing their self-esteem by using false comparisons. As part of the campaign, the brand has also run trials with size 16 mannequins in windows, worked with disabled models and paralympians.

Sharon Webb, Head of Lingerie buying and design for Debenhams says, “We want to help customers feel confident about their figures without bombarding them with unattainable body images.”

So between what Debenhams is doing in the UK to encourage positive body image and what Åhléns is doing in Sweden to do the same with their now infamous fuller-figured mannequins, US retailers clearly have a lot of catching up to do in the “visual honesty in marketing” department, as far as we see it.

You Be The Judge!

The BEFORE and AFTER images that you see in the lead image were released by Debenhams to show an example of just HOW MUCH the original image could have been altered. You be the judge… would this model EVER need this level of retouching?

Here’s what they did to her to make their point:

  • Face and neck slimmed
  • Under-eyes smoothed and lightened
  • Teeth whitened
  • Eyes whitened
  • Waist pulled in
  • Arms slimmed
  • Tidy hands
  • Underarms tidied
  • Legs made thinner
  • Stray hairs tidied
  • Skin tone changed, smoothed and brightened
  • Cleavage enhanced

PS – Apparently, there is a Weird Science remake in the works. If all goes as planned with the project, it will be the first English-language feature remake of a John Hughes-directed film.

As the epitome of a “perfect” ’80s teen comedy, we wonder why people can’t just leave the classics alone… is Hollywood that devoid of creativity? Sheesh!