the above photo is a comparison of an original photo and a retouched photo from from the ann taylor website. a former student (thanks lanee) posted an article on her facebook profile from new york magazine concerning above image and a website glitch that accidentally displayed the unretouched photo on the ann taylor item page. ann taylor has received a huge amount of flack over the extreme manipulation of the photo and the model’s physical proportions.
one of the books that has challenged me a great bit is jean baudrillard’s “simulacra and simulation” – though i found it a difficult read. in this work baudrillard challenges symbols, reality, and society. baudrillard discusses a progression from seeing truth in reality, to simulating reality, to dismissing reality and seeing truth only in it’s simulation. if you can’t tell this book was one of the main sources for the movie “the matrix” (the first one – not the two other let down sequels). part of what challenged me from baudrillard was his argument that often in an attempt to further the experience of a natural good or beauty we develop a simulation of that natural item and then often slowly move to the point that we consider to the fake experience more real that natural one. here are a couple of examples. 1) real food doesn’t look “real” enough in photos so photographers often use fake food to photograph and then people wonder why their food doesn’t look like the photos. 2) ever meet someone who thinks of herself as a rock climber but has never actually climbed in nature – instead she climbs walls with brightly colored plastic “nubs” screwed into it (something originated for practice) and never goes out into nature.
we live in a fake society that actually believes the fake/plastic items are more true than the real items.
so back to the above photo.
according to bobbi brown (a cosmetic artist) supermodels are freaks of nature. yet many believe them to be perfect examples of beauty. of course, few consider that they might actually be real good examples of an unhealthy body (way too low of bmi’s). supermodels shape themselves to convey feminity. in doing that they actually become less female – such low bmi’s lead to a cessation of fertility. the above untouched woman is probably such an example. she is quite skinny in the untouched photo. the untouched photo is almost assuredly already fake. the models has probably been “padded”, taped, and made up to make her look more “perfect.” yet this fake image of a woman is not fake enough to represent the reality beauty that is wanted. the already unnaturally thin woman is not considered thin enough and the company decided to photoshop her image down to unreal proportions. it is literally impossible for anyone to look like the retouched photo, but that is the image that ann taylor is selling.
we could blame this all on the company (and the should be ashamed of themselves) but the reality probably is that we have willingly given up truth for simulations. we have exchange the “realness” for what is fake and we now believe that the fake is reality. what is fake around me that i am choosing over reality? what simulations are you choosing over reality?
it would be great if we would all “take the red pill” a little more often.