First, we told you about the disastrously Photoshopped ad featuring an unrealistically skinny rendering of model Filippa Hamilton. The ad pictured Hamilton’s face on a distorted, rail thin body.
The model’s head appeared significantly larger than the rest of her whole body, even her hips.
After initially being defensive, Ralph Lauren issued a statement, saying that “After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body.” They insisted that they “have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the calibur of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.”
Actually, it seems that the distorted “artwork,” could be a perfectly appropriate representation of the brand.
After all the negative attention the advertisement received, Hamilton went on the record, speaking out against the American brand, divulging that they had fired her months prior due to her weight. The model revealed that the folks at Ralph Lauren called her agent and “said I was overweight and I couldn’t fit in their clothes anymore.”
At 5’10” and 120 pounds, Hamilton is hardly overweight! She’s actually enviably slim!
The clothiers refuted her claims, stating that the termination of the model’s contract was “a result of her inability to meet the obligations under her contract with us.”
Hamilton, meanwhile, denies that she was in any way unable to meet her contractual obligations. As far as the advertisement itself goes, Ralph Lauren insisted that the image was only used in one store in Japan, and “was not the approved image which ran in the U.S.” That may be the case for this one advertisement in particular, but it’s now clear that frighteningly thin could be a look that Ralph Lauren really does encourage.
Another heavily retouched advertisement has surfaced, this time featuring another Ralph Lauren regular, model Valentina Zelyaeva. The ad was spotted in a window display in Sydney, Australia. Just like the first case, this ad features the beautiful Zelyaeva’s face on a skeletal body.
The head and shoulders appear normal, but the torso, hips, and legs look completely emaciated.
We were willing to (warily) give Ralph Lauren the benefit of the doubt with one image. Hey, mistakes happen. But this new ad, coupled with Hamilton’s allegations, sheds light on a clear trend for the company.
Advertisements go through the hands of so many decision-makers before they go public that it seems implausible that this was an accident. There would have been more than a few opportunities to fix any unwanted errors before the image went on display, and yet no-one thought to beef up the absurdly thin rendering. This is clearly the way they wanted the ad to appear.
Not ok! As Filippa Hamilton put it, we “think they owe American women an apology, a big apology.” No more excuses, Ralph Lauren!
How appropriate that this comes in the wake of Fox making fun of Jessica Simpson? Here’s a little controversial thought though: Somehow I’m less offended by the photoshop disaster as compared to the jibing at Jessica Simpson. I know it’s essentially the same thing – the media has a fixation to correct anything that’s not in line with their own perspective of what’s “weight appropriate”. But here’s the thing: Models in magazines have long since been photoshopped to death. It’s just a fact of life. You need to gain some perspective if you think whatever you see in magazines are in any way representative of real life.
We can blame the media all we like for giving younger girls a highly distorted and inaccurate representation of what’s an appropriate body weight, but can you honestly say you would rather have plus size models on the runway and in your magazines? Fact is, the idea that thin = beautiful has been so ingrained in us that anything that runs conversely to this perception confuses and weirds us out. The day when runways and magazines can use plus size models without the media picking up on the fact would be the day society has truly changed its perspective. Who do we have to blame for the mentality that thin = beautiful then? This is a chicken-or-egg-first situation really.
That said, I do concur that Ralph Lauren has indeed gone overboard with the photoshop to the point that the models look almost ridiculous. And them firing Filippa Hamilton because she’s “overweight”? Hello, the girl’s 178 cm and 54 kg. I would like to know in which warped alternate universe does this equate to “overweight”.